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Title: The Secret of the Totem

Author: Andrew Lang

Release Date: April 11, 2014 [EBook #45363]

Language: English

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This book is the natural sequel of Social Origins and Primal Law, published three years ago. In Primal Law, Mr. J. J. Atkinson sought for the origin of marriage prohibitions in the social conditions of early man, as conceived of by Mr. Darwin. Man, in the opinion of the great naturalist, was a jealous animal; the sire, in each group, kept all his female mates to himself, expelling his adolescent male offspring. From this earliest and very drastic restriction, Mr. Atkinson, using the evidence of "avoidances" between kinsfolk in savage society, deduced the various prohibitions on sexual unions. His ingenious theory has been received with some favour, where it has been understood.

Mr. Atkinson said little about totemism, and, in Social Origins, I offered a theory of the Origin of Totemism; an elaboration of the oldest of all scientific theories, that of Garcilasso de la Vega, an Inca on the maternal side, the author of the History of the Incas. Totems, he conceived, arose in the early efforts of human groups to differentiate each from the others. Mr. Max Müller and Dr. Pikler set forth the same notion, independently. The "clans," or, as I say, "groups," needed differentiation by names, such as are still used as personal names by savages, and by names easily expressed in pictographs, and easily signalled in gesture language. The origin of the group names, or sobriquets, once forgotten, the names, as usual, suggested a relation between the various name-giving objects and the groups which bore them. That relation was explained by the various myths which make the name-giving animals, plants, and other objects, mystic kinsmen, patrons, or ancestors of the groups named after them. From reflection on this mystic rapport between the objects and the human groups of the same names, arose the various superstitions and tabus, including that which prohibits unions between men and women of the same animal group-name, whether by locality or maternal descent.

Critics objected that such a "trivial accident" as a name could not be the germ, or one of the germs of a great social system. But "the name goes before everything," as the Scots used to say; and in this book I have set forth the great importance of names in early society, a fact universally acknowledged by anthropologists.

It was also objected that names given from without would never be accepted and gloried in, so I now prove that such names have often been accepted and gloried in, even when they are derisive; which, among savages, names derived from plants and animals are not; they are rather honourable appellations.

So far, I have only fortified my position. But some acute criticisms offered in Man by Mr. N. W. Thomas enabled me to detect a weak point in my system, as given in Social Origins, and so led on to what I venture to think not unimportant discoveries regarding the Australian social organisations. To Mr. Thomas's researches, which I trust he will publish in full, I am much indebted, and he kindly read part of this book in type-written MS.

I also owe much to Mrs. Langloh Parker, who generously permitted me to read, in her MS., her valuable account of the Euahlayi tribe of New South Wales, which is to be published by Messrs. Archibald Constable. No student has been so intimately acquainted as this lady with the women of an Australian tribe; while the men, in a place where they could be certain that they were free from tribal espionnage, were singularly communicative. Within its limits, Mrs. Langloh Parker's book, I think, may be reckoned almost as valuable as those of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen.

By the irony of fortune, I had no sooner seen my book in print, than Mr. J. G. Frazer's chapter on "The Beginnings of Religion and Totemism among the Australian Aborigines" (Fortnightly Review, September 1905) came into my hands. I then discovered that, just when I thought myself to have disentangled the ravelled thread of totemism, Mr. Frazer also thought, using another metaphor, that his own "plummets had found bottom"—a very different bottom. I then wrote Chapter XI., stating my objections to his theories. Many of these, mainly objections to the hypothesis of the relative primitiveness of the Arunta "nation," had often been urged before by others. I was unaware that they had been answered, but they have obviously been deemed inadequate. Meanwhile the question as between two entirely different solutions of the old mystery remains open.

Since critics of my Social Origins often missed my meaning, I am forced to suppose that I may in like manner have misconstrued some of the opinions of others, which, as I understand them, I am obliged to contest. I have done my best to understand, and shall deeply regret any failures of interpretation on my own part.

Necessarily I was unaware that in Mr. Frazer's opinion, as set forth in his essay of September 1905, "the common assumption that inheritance of the totem through the mother always preceded inheritance of it through the father need not hold good." I have throughout argued on that assumption, which I understood to be held by Mr. Frazer, as well as by Mr. Taylor, Mr. Howitt, and most authorities. If it be correct, as I still think it is, it cannot but be fatal to the Arunta claim to primitiveness. But Arunta society is, in many points, so obviously highly organised, and so confessedly advanced, that I am quite unable to accept this tribe as an example of the most archaic state of affairs extant. If I am wrong, much of my argument is shaken, and of this it is necessary to warn the reader. But a tribe really must be highly advanced in organisation, if it can afford to meet and devote four months to ceremonials, as it did, in a region said to be relatively deficient in natural supplies.

In this book I have been able to use the copious materials of Mr. Howitt and Messrs. Spencer and Gillen in their two recent works. It seems arrogant to differ from some of the speculative opinions of these distinguished observers, but "we must go where the logos leads us."

I end by thanking Mr. H. J. Ford for his design of Eagle Hawk and Crow, heading the totems in their phratries, and betrothing two interesting young human members of these divisions.




The making of the local tribe of savagery—Earliest known stage of society—Result of complex processes—Elaborate tribal rules—Laws altered deliberately: sometimes borrowed—Existing legislative methods of savages not primitive—The tribe a gradual conquest of culture—The tribe a combination of small pre-tribal kinships—History of progress towards the tribe traceable in surviving institutions—From passion to Law—Rudeness of native culture in Australia—Varieties of social organisation there—I. Tribes with two phratries, totems, female descent—Tribes of this organisation differ as to ceremonies and beliefs—Some beliefs tend to polytheism: others towards monotheism—Some tribes of pristine organisation have totemic magic and pirrauru: others have not—The more northern tribes of pristine organisation share the ceremonies and beliefs of central tribes: not so the south-eastern tribes—Second form (a) of social organisation has male descent—Second form (b) has female descent plus "matrimonial classes"—Account of these—Eight-class system—The Arunta nation—Their peculiar form of belief in reincarnation—Churinga nanja—Recapitulation—The Euahlayi tribe.

The question of the origin of totemism has more than the merely curious or antiquarian interest of an historic or prehistoric mystery. In the course of the inquiry we may be able to discern and discriminate the relative contributions of unreflecting passion, on one hand, and of deliberate reason, on the other, to the structure of the earliest extant form of human society. That form is the savage local tribe, as known to us in America and in Australia.

Men live in united local communities, relatively large, and carefully regimented, before they have learned to domesticate animals, or to obey chiefs, or to practise the rudest form of agriculture, or to fashion clay into pottery, or to build permanent hovels. Customary law is older than any of these things, and the most ancient law which we can observe unites a tribe by that system of marriages which expresses itself in totemism.

It is plain that the processes of evolution which have resulted in the most backward societies known to us, must have been very complex. If we reflect that the society of the Australian aborigines presents the institution of local tribes, each living peacefully, except for occasional internal squabbles, in a large definite tract of country; cultivating, on the whole, friendly relations with similar and similarly organised tribes; while obeying a most elaborate system of rules, it is obvious that these social conditions must be very remote from the absolutely primitive.[1] The rules of these tribes regulate every detail of private life with a minuteness and a rigour that remind us of what the Scottish Cavalier (1652) protested against as "the bloody and barbarous inconveniences of Presbyterial Government." Yet the tribes have neither presbyters, nor priests, nor kings. Their body of customary law, so copious and complex that, to the European, it seems as puzzling as algebra is to the savage, has been evolved, after a certain early point, by the slow secular action of "collective wisdom." We shall find that on this point, early deliberate modification of law, there can be no doubt.

The recent personal researches of Mr. Howitt and Messrs. Spencer and Gillen make it certain that tribal affairs, now, among many tribes at least, are discussed with the utmost deliberation, and that modifications of institutions may be canvassed, adopted, or rejected, on the initiative of seniors, local "Headmen," and medicine men.[2] It is also certain that tribe borrows from tribe, in the matter of songs, dances, and institutions, while members of one tribe are permitted to be present at the sacred ceremonials of others, especially when these tribes are on intermarrying terms.[3] In such cases, the ceremonials of one tribe may affect those of another, the Arunta may influence the Urabunna, who borrow their sacred objects or churinga for use in their own rites. We even hear of cases in which native religious ideas have been propagated by missionaries sent from tribe to tribe.[4]

Thus, conservative as is the savage by nature, he is distinctly capable of deliberate modification of his rites, ceremonies, and customary laws, and of interchanging ideas on these subjects with neighbouring tribes.

All this is true, to-day, and doubtless has long been true.

But at this point we must guard against what we consider a prevalent fallacy. The legislative action of the natives, the initiative of local Headmen, and Heads of Totems and of "Classes" (social divisions), and of medicine men inspired by "some supernatural being, such as Kutchi of the Dieri, Bunjil of the Wurunjerri, or Daramulun of the Coast Murring,"[5] is only rendered possible by the existence, to-day, of social conditions which cannot be primitive. To-day the Tribe, with its innumerable rules, and its common faith in Kutchi or Daramulun, with its recognised local or social Headmen, with its regulations for dealing with other tribes, and with its heralds or messengers, is an institution "in being." But, necessarily, this was not always so; the Tribe itself is a great "conquest of culture," and that conquest must have been made very slowly.

The prevalent fallacy, then, is to take unconsciously for granted that the people was, from the beginning, regimented into tribes, or existed in "hordes" already as capable as actual tribes of deliberative assemblies and legislative action, and that, in these hordes, a certain law, "the universal basis of their social system, was brought about by intention," as Mr. Howitt believes.[6]

The law in question, "the universal basis of their social system," was nothing less than a rule compelling people who had hitherto been promiscuous in their unions, to array themselves into a pair of tribal divisions, in which no member might marry another member of the same division, but must marry a member of the opposite division. The mere idea of such an act of legislation, for which no motive is assigned (and no motive is conceivable) postulates the pre-existence of a community like the Tribe of to-day, with powers to legislate, and to secure obedience for its legislative acts. This postulate cannot be granted, it refracts the institutions of to-day on a past state of society which, in all probability, could possess no such institutions. The "chaotic horde" of the hypothesis could not allot to various human groups the duty of working magic (to take an instance) for the good of various articles of the common food supply, nor could it establish a new and drastic rule, suddenly regulating sexual unions which had previously been utterly unregulated.

Human history does not show us a relatively large mass segregating itself into smaller communities. It shows us small communities aggregating into larger combinations, the village into the city, the European tribes into the kingdom, the kingdoms into the nation, the nation into the empire. The Tribe itself, in savage society, is a combination of small kins, or sets of persons of various degrees of status; these kins have not been legislatively segregated out of a pre-existing horde having powers of legislation. The idea of such a legislative primeval horde has been unconsciously borrowed from the actual Tribe of experience to-day.

That tribe is not primitive, far from it, but is very old.

Tribal collective wisdom, when once the tribe was evolved, has probably been at work, in unrecorded ages, over all the world, and in most places seems, up to a certain point, to have followed much the same strange course. The path does not march straight to any point predetermined by man, but loops, and zigzags, and retreats, and returns on itself, like the course of a river beset by rocks and shoals, and parcelled into wandering streams, and lagging in morasses. Yet the river reaches the sea, and the loops and links of the path, frayed by innumerable generations of early men, led at last to the haven of the civilised Family, and the Family Peace.

The history of the progress must necessarily be written in the strange characters of savage institutions, and in these odd and elaborate regulations which alarm the incurious mind under the names of "Phratries," "Totems," "Matrimonial Classes," "Pirrauru," and "Piraungaru." In these, as in some Maya or Easter Island inscription, graven in bizarre signs, lies the early social history of Man. We pore over the characters, turning them this way and that, deciphering a mark here and there, but unable to agree on any coherent rendering of the whole, so that some scholars deem the problems insoluble—and most are at odds among themselves.

Possibly we can at last present a coherent translation of the record which lies half concealed and half revealed in the savage institutions with their uncouth names, and can trace the course of an evolution which, beginning in natural passions, emotions, and superstitions, reached a rudimentary social law. That law, again, from a period far behind our historical knowledge, has been deliberately modified by men, much as a Bill in Parliament is modified by amendments and compromises into an Act. The industry of students who examine the customs of the remotest races has accumulated a body of evidence in which the various ways out of early totemic society towards the civilised conception of the family may be distinctly traced.

Meanwhile we are concerned rather with the way into totemism out of a prior non-totemic social condition, and with the development of the various stages of totemic society in Australia. The natives of that country, when unspoiled by European influences, are almost on one level as to material culture. Some tribes have rather better and more permanent shelters than others; some have less inadequate canoes than the rest; some drape themselves against cold weather in the skins of beasts, while others go bare; but all are non-agricultural hunting wanderers, without domesticated animals, without priests, and without chiefs on the level of those of the old Highland clans. They are ignorant of pottery, a fact which marks the very lowest culture; they know not the bow and arrow; their implements of stone vary from the polished "neolithic" to the rough-hewn "palæolithic" type: a man will use either sort as occasion serves.

While everyday life and its implements are thus rude, there are great varieties of social organisation, of ceremonial institutions, and of what, among Europeans, would be called speculative and religious ideas, expressing themselves in myths and rites.

Taking social organisation first, we begin with what all inquirers (except one or two who wrote before the recent great contributions to knowledge appeared) acknowledge to be the most pristine type extant Each tribe of this type is in two intermarrying divisions (which we call "exogamous moieties," or "phratries"), and each phratry bears a name which, when it can be translated, is, as a rule, that of an animal.[7] We shall show later why the meaning of the names has often been lost. Take the animal names of the phratries to be Emu and Kangaroo, no man of the Emu phratry may marry a woman of the same phratry, he must marry out of his phratry ("exogamy"); nor may a man of the Kangaroo phratry marry a woman of the same. Kangaroo phratry must marry into Emu, and Emu into Kangaroo. The phratry names in each case are, in the more primitive types of the organisation (which alone we are now considering) inherited from the mother.[8] A man of the Emu phratry marries a woman of the Kangaroo phratry, and to that phratry her children belong. Thus members of either phratry must be found in any casual knot or company of natives. Within each phratry there are, again, kinships also known by hereditary names of animals or plants. Thus, in Emu phratry, there may be kins called, say, Emu, Opossum, Wallaby, Grub, and others; in the Kangaroo phratry different names prevail, such as Kangaroos, Lizards, Dingoes, Cockatoos, and others. The name-giving animals, in this case, are called by us "totems," and the human kins which bear their names are called "totem kins." No man or woman may marry a person of his or her own totem. But this, in fact, as matters stand in Australia, puts no fresh bar on marriage, because (except in four or five tribes of the Centre) if a man marries out of his phratry he must necessarily marry out of his totem kin, since there are no members of his totem name in the phratry into which he must marry. In America, in cases where there are no phratries, and universally, where totems exist without phratries, marriage between persons of the same totem is forbidden.

The organisation of the more primitive tribes presents only the two exogamous moieties or phratries in each tribe and the totem kins in the phratries. We have Crow phratry and Eagle Hawk phratry, and, within Crow phratry, Crow totem kin,[9] with other totem kins; within Eagle Hawk phratry, Eagle Hawk totem kin, with other totem kins, which are never of the same names as those in Crow phratry.

This we call the primitive type, all the other organisations are the result of advances on and modifications of this organisation. It also occurs in America,[10] where, however, the phratry is seldom extant, though it does exist occasionally, and is known to have existed among the Iroquois and to have decayed.

On examining Mr. Howitt's map[11] it will be seen that this type of social organisation extends, or has extended, from Mount Gambier, by the sea, in the extreme south, past Lake Eyre, to some distance beyond Cooper's Creek or the Barcoo River, and even across the Diamantina River in Queensland. But it is far from being the case that all tribes with this pristine organisation possess identical ceremonies and ideas. On the other hand, from the southern borders of Lake Eyre, northwards, the tribes of this social organisation have peculiar ceremonies, unknown in the south and east, but usual further north and west. They initiate young men with the rites of circumcision or subincision (a cruel process unknown outside of Australia), or with both. In the south-east the knocking out of a front tooth takes the place of these bloody ordeals. The Lake Eyre tribes, again, do not, like those south and east of them, hold by, and inculcate at the rites, "the belief as to the existence of a great supernatural anthropomorphic Being, by whom the ceremonies were first instituted, and who still communicates with mankind through the medicine men, his servants."[12] Their myths rather repose on the idea of beings previous to man, "the prototypes of, but more powerful in magic than the native tribes. These beings, if they did not create man, at least perfected him from some unformed and scarcely human creatures."[13]

Thus, the more northern tribes of primitive tribal organisation (say the Dieri and their congeners) have beliefs which might ripen into the Greek mythology of gods and Titans, while the faith of the tribes of the same social organisation, further south by east, might develop into a rude form of Hebrew monotheism, and the two myths may co-exist, and often do. The northern tribes about Lake Eyre, and the central and north tribes, work co-operative magic for the behoof of their totem animals, as part of the common food supply, a rite unknown to the south and east. They also practise a custom (Pirrauru) of allotting men and women, married or unmarried, as paramours to each other, after a symbolic ceremony. This arrangement also is unknown in the south and east, and even north by west, though almost everywhere there is sexual licence at certain ceremonial meetings. It is thus plain that the more northern tribes of the primitive organisation described, differ from their southern and eastern neighbours (i.) in their most important initiatory rites, (ii.) in some of their myths or beliefs,[14] (iii.) in their totemic magic, and (iv.) in their allotment of permanent paramours. In the first three points these northern tribes of primitive type resemble, not the south-eastern tribes of the same social type, but the more socially advanced central, western, and northern "nations," with whom some of them are in touch and even intermarry. It is a dangerous fallacy to suppose that all tribes of the primitive tribal organisation are solidaires as to marriage, ceremonial rites, and beliefs.

It is difficult to say which is the second type of tribal organisation. We have in Victoria, in a triangle with its apex on the Murray River, the organisation already described (1), but here descent is reckoned in the male, not in the female line. This implies some social advance: social institutions, with male descent of the totem name, are certain to become local, rather than totemistic. The Kangaroos, deriving the totem name from the father, are a local clan, in some cases, like the MacIans in Glencoe. The Kangaroo name prevails in the locality. This cannot occur, obviously, when the names are derived from mothers, and the women go to the husband's district. We may call the organisation thus described (2a), and as (2b) we should reckon the organisation which prevails, as a rule, on the east of Southern Australia, in Queensland and New South Wales, from the northerly and southern coast-line (with a gap in the centre of the coast-line), to the eastern limits of (1). Here we find (2b) a great set of tribes having female descent, but each individual belongs not only to one of two phratries, and to a totem, but also to a "Matrimonial Class." In each phratry there are two such classes. Among the Kamilaroi, in phratry Dilbi, are "classes" named Muri (male) and Kubi (male). In phratry Kupathin are Ipai (male) and Kumbo (male), while the women bear the feminine forms of these names. Their meaning is usually unknown, but in two or three tribes, where the meaning of the class names is known with certainty, they denote animals.

The arrangement works thus, a man of phratry Dilbi, and of matrimonial class Muri, may not marry any woman that he chooses, in the other phratry, Kupathin. He can only marry a Kubatha, that is, a female of the class Kumbo. Their children, female descent prevailing, are of Kupathin phratry, and of the mother's totem, but do not belong to the class either of father (Muri) or of mother (Kumbo). They must belong to the other class within her phratry, namely Ipai. This rule applies throughout; thus, if a man of phratry Dilbi, and of Kubi class, marries a woman of Ipai class in phratry Kupathin, their children are neither of class Kubi nor of class Ipai, but of class Kumbo, the linked or sister class of Ipai, in Kupathin phratry.

Suppose for the sake of argument that the class names denote, or once denoted animals, so that, say—

In phratry

DilbiMuri = Turtle.
Kubi = Bat.

While in phratry

KupathinIpai = Carpet Snake.
Kumbo = Native Cat.

It is obvious that male Turtle would marry female Cat, and (with maternal descent) their children would, by class name, be Carpet Snakes. Bat would marry Carpet Snake, and their children would, by class name, be Cats. Persons of each generation would thus belong to classes of different animal names for ever, and no one might marry into either his or her own phratry, his or her own totem, or his or her own generation, that is, into his or her own class. It is exactly (where the classes bear animal names) as if two generations had totems. The mothers of Muri class in Dilbi would have Turtle, the mothers in Kupathin (Ipai) would have Carpet Snake. Their children, in Kupathin, would have Cat. Not only the phratries and the totem kins, but each successive generation, would thus be delimited by bearing an animal name, and marriage would be forbidden between all persons not of different animal-named phratries, different animal-named totem kins, and different animal-named generations. In many cases, we repeat, the names of the phratries and of the classes have not yet been translated, and the meanings are unknown to the natives themselves. That the class names were originally animal names is a mere hypothesis, based on few examples.

Say I am of phratry Crow, of totem Lizard, of generation and matrimonial class Turtle; then I must marry only a woman of phratry Eagle Hawk, of any totem in Eagle Hawk phratry,[15] and of generation and class name Cat. Our children, with female descent, will be of phratry Eagle Hawk, of totem the mother's, and of generation and class name Carpet Snake. Their children will be of phratry Crow, of totem the mother's, and of generation and class name Cat again; and so on for ever. Each generation in a phratry has its class name, and may not marry within that name. The next generation has the other class name, and may not marry within that. Assuming that phratry names, totem names, and generation names are always names of animals (or of other objects in nature), the laws would amount, we repeat, simply to this: No person may marry another person who, by phratry, or totem, or generation, owns the same hereditary animal name or other name as himself or herself. Moreover no one may marry a person (where matrimonial classes exist) who bears the same class or generation name as his mother or father.

In practice the rules are thus quite simple, mistake is impossible—complicated as the arrangements look on paper. Where totem and phratry names only exist, a man has merely to ask a woman, "What is your phratry name?" If it is his own, an amour is forbidden. Where phratry names are obsolete, and classes exist, he has only to ask, "What is your class name?" If it is that of either class in his own phratry of the tribe, to love is to break a sacred law. It is not necessary, as a rule, even to ask the totem name. What looks so perplexing is in essence, and in practical working, of extreme simplicity. But some tribes have deliberately modified the rules, to facilitate marriage.

The conspicuous practical result of the Class arrangement (not primitive), is that just as totem law makes it impossible for a person to marry a sister or brother uterine, so Class law makes a marriage between father and daughter, mother and son, impossible.[16] But such marriages never occur in Australian tribes of pristine organisation (1) which have no class names, no collective names for successive generations. The origin of these class or generation names is a problem which will be discussed later.

Such is the Class system where it exists in tribes with female descent. It has often led to the loss and disappearance of the phratry names, which are forgotten, since the two sets of opposed class names do the phratry work.

We have next (3) the same arrangements with descent reckoned in the male line. This prevails on the south-east coast, from Hervey River to Warwick. In Gippsland, and in a section round Melbourne, there were "anomalous" arrangements which need not now detain us; the archaic systems tended to die out altogether.

All these south central (Dieri), southern, and eastern tribes may be studied in Mr. Howitt's book, already cited, which contains the result of forty years' work, the information being collected partly by personal research and partly through many correspondents. Mr. Howitt has viewed the initiatory ceremonies of more than one tribe, and is familiar with their inmost secrets.

For the tribes of the centre and north we must consult two books, the fruits of the personal researches of Mr. Baldwin Spencer, M.A., F.R.S., Professor of Biology in the University of Melbourne, and of Mr. F. J. Gillen, Sub-Protector of Aborigines, South Australia.[17] For many years Mr. Gillen has been in the confidence of the tribes, and he and Mr. Spencer have passed many months in the wilds, being admitted to view the most secret ceremonies, and being initiated into the myths of the people. Their photographs of natives are numerous and excellent.

These observers begin in the south centre, where Mr. Howitt leaves off in his northerly researches, and go north. They start with the Urabunna tribe, north-east of Lake Eyre, congeners of Mr. Howitt's Dieri, and speaking a dialect akin to theirs, while the tribe intermarry marry with the Arunta (whose own dialect has points in common with theirs) of the centre of the continent These Urabunna are apparently in the form of social organisation which we style primitive (No. 1), but there are said, rather vaguely, to be more restrictions on marriage than is usual, people of one totem in Kiraru phratry being restricted to people of one totem in Matteri phratry.[18]

They have phratries, totem kins, apparently no matrimonial classes (some of their rules are imperfectly ascertained), and they reckon descent in the female line. But, like the Dieri (and unlike the tribes of the south and east), they practise subincision; they have, or are said to have, no belief in "a supernatural anthropomorphic great Being"; they believe in "old semi-human ancestors," who scattered about spirits, which are perpetually reincarnated in new members of the tribe; they practise totemic magic; and they cultivate the Dieri custom of allotting paramours. Thus, by social organisation, they attach themselves to the south-eastern tribes (1), but, like the Dieri, and even more so (for, unlike the Dieri, they believe in reincarnation), they agree in ceremonies, and in the general idea of their totemic magic, rites, and mythical ideas, with tribes who, as regards social organisation, are in state (4), reckon descent in the male line, and possess, not four, but eight matrimonial classes.

This institution of eight classes is developing in the Arunta "nation," the people of the precise centre of Australia, who march with, and intermarry with, the Urabunna; at least the names for the second set of four matrimonial classes, making eight in all, are reaching the Arunta from the northern tribes. All the way further north to the Gulf of Carpentaria, male descent and eight classes prevail, with subincision, prolonged and complex ceremonials, the belief in reincarnation of primal semi-human, semi-bestial ancestors, and the absence (except in the Kaitish tribe, next the Arunta) of any known belief in what Mr. Howitt calls the "All Father." Totemic magic also is prevalent, dwindling as you approach the north-east coast. In consequence of reckoning in the male line (which necessarily causes most of the dwellers in a group to be of the same totem), local organisation is more advanced in these tribes than in the south and east.

We next speak of social organisation (5), namely, that of the Arunta and Kaitish tribes, which is without example in any other known totemic society all over the world. The Arunta and Kaitish not only believe, like most northern and western tribes, in the perpetual reincarnation of ancestral spirits, but they, and they alone, hold that each such spirit, during discarnate intervals, resides in, or is mainly attached to, a decorated kind of stone amulet, called churinga nanja. These objects, with this myth, are not recorded as existing among other "nations." When a child is born, its friends hunt for its ancestral stone amulet in the place where its mother thinks that she conceived it, and around the nearest rendezvous of discarnate local totemic souls, all of one totem only. The amulet and the local totemic centre, with its haunted nanja rock or tree, determine the totem of the child. Thus, unlike all other totemists, the Arunta do not inherit their totems either from father or mother, or both. Totems are determined by local accident. Not being hereditary, they are not exogamous: here, and here alone, they do not regulate marriage. Men may, and do, marry women of their own totem, and their child's totem may neither be that of its father nor of its mother. The members of totem groups are really members of societies, which co-operatively work magic for the good of the totems. The question arises, Is this the primitive form of totemism? We shall later discuss that question (Chapter IV.).

Meanwhile we conceive the various types of social organisation to begin with the south-eastern phratries, totems, and female reckoning of descent (1) to advance to these plus male descent (2a), and to these with female descent and four matrimonial classes (2b). Next we place (3) that four-class system with male descent; next (4) the north-western system of male descent with eight matrimonial classes, and last (as anomalous in some respects), (5) the Arunta-Kaitish system of male descent, eight classes, and non-hereditary non-exogamous totems.

As regards ceremonial and belief, we place (1) the tribes south and east of the Dieri. (2) The Dieri. (3) The Urabunna, and north, central, and western tribes. (4) The Arunta. The Dieri and Urabunna we regard (at least the Dieri) as pristine in social organisation, with peculiarities all their own, but in ceremonial and belief more closely attached to the central, north, and west than to the south-eastern tribes. As concerns the bloody rites, Mr. Howitt inclines to the belief (corroborated by legends, whatever their value) that "a northern origin must ultimately be assigned to these ceremonies."[19] It is natural to assume that the more cruel initiatory rites are the more archaic, and that the tribes which practise them are the more pristine. But this is not our opinion nor that of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen. The older rite is the mere knocking out of front teeth (also used by the Masai of East Central Africa). This rite, in Central Australia, "has lost its old meaning, its place has been taken by other rites."[20] ... Increased cruelty accompanies social advance in this instance. In another matter innovation comes from the north. Messrs. Spencer and Gillen are of the opinion that "changes in totemic matters have been slowly passing down from north to south." The eight classes, in place of four classes, are known as a matter of fact to have actually "reached the Arunta from the north, and at the present moment are spreading south-wards."[21]

Again, a feebler form of the reincarnation belief, namely, that souls of the young who die uninitiated are reincarnated, occurs in the Euahlayi tribe of north-western New South Wales.[22] Whether the Euahlayi belief came from the north, in a limited way, or whether it is the germinal state of the northern belief, is uncertain. It is plain that if bloody rites and eight classes may come down from the north, totemic magic and the faith in reincarnation may also have done so, and thus modified the rites and "religious" opinions of the Dieri and Urabunna, who are said still to be, socially, in the most pristine state, that of phratries and female descent, without matrimonial classes.[23] It is also obvious that if the Kaitish faith in a sky-dweller (rare in northern tribes) be a "sport," and if the Arunta churinga nanja, plus non-hereditary and non-exogamous totems, be a "sport," the Dieri and Urabunna custom, too, of solemnly allotted permanent paramours may be a thing of isolated and special development, not a survival of an age of "group marriage."

[1] Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 41. 1904.

[2] Cf. for example Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes of Central Australia, p. 26. Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 88, 89.

[3] Howitt, ut supra, pp. 511, 513.

[4] Hale, U.S. Exploring Expedition, p. 410. 1846.

[5] Howitt, ut supra, p. 89.

[6] Op. cit., p. 89.

[7] There are exceptions, or at least one exception is known to the rule of animal names for phratries, a point to which we shall return. Dr. Roth (N.W. Central Queensland Aborigines, p. 56) suggests that the phratry names Wutaru and Pakuta mean One and Two (cf. p. 26). For Wutaru and Yungaru, however, interpretations indicating names of animals are given, diversely, by Mr. Bridgman and Mr. Chatfield, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, pp. 40, 41.

[8] That reckoning descent in the female line, among totemists, is earlier than reckoning in the male line, Mr. Howitt, Mr. Tylor, Dr. Durkheim, and Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, with Mr. J. G. Frazer, till recently, are agreed. Starcke says "usually the female line only appears in connection with the Kobong (totem) groups," and he holds the eccentric opinion that totems are relatively late, and that the tribes with none are the more primitive! (The Primitive Family, p. 26, 1896.) This writer calls Mr. Howitt "a missionary."

[9] That this is the case will be proved later; the fact has hitherto escaped observation.

[10] Frazer, Totemism, p. 6l. Morgan, Ancient Society, pp. 90, 94 et seq.

[11] Native Tribes of South-East Australia. Macmillan, 1904.

[12] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 640. For examples, pp. 528-535.

[13] Ibid., p. 487.

[14] That is, on our present information. It is very unusual for orthodox adhesion to one set of myths to prevail.

[15] Sometimes members of one totem are said to be restricted to marriage with members of only one other totem.

[16] Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 284, citing Mr. J. G. Frazer.

[17] Native Tribes of Central Australia, 1899. Northern Tribes of Central Australia, 1904. Macmillan.

[18] Cf. Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 188-189. Native Tribes of Central Australia, p. 60.

[19] Howitt, op. cit., p. 676, N.T., p. 20.

[20] Native Tribes of Central Australia, p. 214. The same opinion is stated as very probable in Northern Tribes of Central Australia, p. 329.

[21] N. T., p. 20.

[22] Mrs. Langloh Parker's M.S.

[23] I am uncertain as to this point among the Urabunna, as will appear later.



Method of inquiry—Errors to be avoided—Origin of totemism not to be looked for among the "sports" of socially advanced tribes—Nor among tribes of male reckoning of descent—Nor in the myths explanatory of origin of totemism—Myths of origin of heraldic bearings compared—Tribes in state of ancestor-worship: their totemic myths cannot be true—Case of Bantu myths (African)—Their myth implies ancestor-worship —Another African myth derives tribal totems from tribal nicknames—No totemic myths are of any historic value—The use of conjecture—Every theory must start from conjecture—Two possible conjectures as to earliest men gregarious (the horde), or lonely sire, female mates, and off-spring—Five possible conjectures as to the animal names of kinships in relation to early society and exogamy—Theory of the author; of Professor Spencer; of Dr. Durkheim; of Mr. Hill-Tout; of Mr. Howitt—Note on McLennan's theory of exogamy.

We have now given the essential facts in the problem of early society as it exists in various forms among the most isolated and pristine peoples extant. It has been shown that the sets of seniority (classes), the exogamous moieties (phratries), and the kinships in each tribe bear names which, when translated, are usually found to denote animals. Especially the names of the totem kindreds, and of the totems, are commonly names of animals or plants. If we can discover why this is so, we are near the discovery of the origin of totemism. Meanwhile we offer some remarks as to the method to be pursued in the search for a theory which will colligate all the facts in the case, and explain the origin of totemic society. In the first place certain needful warnings must be given, certain reefs which usually wreck efforts to construct a satisfactory hypothesis must be marked.

First, it will be vain to look for the origin of totemism either among advanced and therefore non-pristine Australian types of tribal organisation, or among peoples not Australian, who are infinitely more forward than the Australians in the arts of life, and in the possession of property. Such progressive peoples may present many interesting social phenomena, but, as regards pure primitive totemism, they dwell on "fragments of a broken world." The totemic fragments, among them, are twisted and shattered strata, with fantastic features which cannot be primordial, but are metamorphic. Accounts of these societies are often puzzling, and the strange confused terms used by the reporters, especially in America, frequently make them unintelligible.

The learned, who are curious in these matters, would have saved themselves much time and labour had they kept two conspicuous facts before their eyes.

(1) It is useless to look for the origins of totemism among the peculiarities and "sports" which always attend the decadence of totemism, consequent on the change from female to male lineage, as Mr. Howitt, our leader in these researches, has always insisted. To search for the beginnings among late and abnormal phenomena, things isolated, done in a corner, and not found among the tribal organisations of the earliest types, is to follow a trail sure to be misleading.

(2) The second warning is to be inferred from the first. It is waste of time to seek for the origin of totemism in anything—an animal name, a sacred animal, a paternal soul tenanting an animal—which is inherited from its first owner, he being an individual ancestor male. Such inheritance implies the existence of reckoning descent in the male line, and totemism conspicuously began in, and is least contaminated in, tribes who reckon descent in the female line.

Another stone of stumbling comes from the same logical formation. The error is, to look for origins in myths about origins, told among advanced or early societies. If a people has advanced far in material culture, if it is agricultural, breeds cattle, and works the metals, of course it cannot be primitive. However, it may retain vestiges of totemism, and, if it does, it will explain them by a story, a myth of its own, just as modern families, and even cities, have their myths to account for the origin, now forgotten, of their armorial bearings, or crests—the dagger in the city shield, the skene of the Skenes, the sawn tree of the Hamiltons, the lyon of the Stuarts.

Now an agricultural, metallurgic people, with male descent, in the middle barbarism, will explain its survivals of totemism by a myth natural in its intellectual and social condition; but not natural in the condition of the homeless nomad hunters, among whom totemism arose. For example, we have no reason to suspect that when totemism began men had a highly developed religion of ancestor-worship. Such a religion has not yet been evolved in Australia, where the names of the dead are usually tabooed, where there is hardly a trace of prayers, hardly a trace of offerings to the dead, and none of offerings to animals.[1] The more pristine Australians, therefore, do not explain their totems as containing the souls of ancestral spirits. On the other hand, when the Bantu tribes of Southern Africa—agricultural, with settled villages, with kings, and with many of the crafts, such as metallurgy—explain the origin of their tribal names derived from animals on the lines of their religion—ancestor-worship—their explanation may be neglected as far as our present purpose is concerned. It is only their theory, only the myth which, in their intellectual and religious condition, they are bound to tell, and it can throw no light on the origin of sacred animals.

The Bantu local tribes, according to Mr. M'Call Theal, have Siboko, that is, name-giving animals. The tribesmen will not kill, or eat, or touch, "or in any way come into contact with" their Siboko, if they can avoid doing so. A man, asked "What do you dance?" replies by giving the name of his Siboko, which is, or once was, honoured in mystic or magical dances.

"When a division of a tribe took place, each section retained the same ancestral animal," and men thus trace dispersed segments of their tribe, or they thus account for the existence of other tribes of the same Siboko as themselves.

Things being in this condition, an ancestor-worshipping people has to explain the circumstances by a myth. Being an ancestor-worshipping people, the Bantu explain the circumstance, as they were certain to do, by a myth of ancestral spirits. "Each tribe regarded some particular animal as the one selected by the ghosts of its kindred, and therefore looked upon it as sacred."

It should be superfluous to say that the Bantu myth cannot possibly throw any tight on the real origin of totemism. The Bantu, ancestor-worshippers of great piety, find themselves saddled with sacred tribal Siboko; why, they know not. So they naturally invent the fable that the Siboko, which are sacred, are sacred because they are the shrines of what to them are really sacred, namely, ancestral spirits.[2] But they also cherish another totally different myth to explain their Siboko.

We now give this South African myth, which explains tribal Siboko, and their origin, not on the lines of ancestor-worship, but, rather to my annoyance, on the lines of my own theory of the Origin of Totems!

On December 9, 1879, the Rev. Roger Price, of Mole-pole, in the northern Bakuena country, wrote as follows to Mr. W. G. Stow, Geological Survey, South Africa. He gives the myth which is told to account for the Siboko or tribal sacred and name-giving animal of the Bahurutshe—Baboons. (These animal names in this part of Africa denote local tribes, not totem kins within a local tribe.)

"Tradition says that about the time the separation took place between the Bahurutshe and the Bakuena, Baboons entered the gardens of the Bahurutshe and ate their pumpkins, before the proper time for commencing to eat the fruits of the new year. The Bahurutshe were unwilling that the pumpkins which the baboons had broken off and nibbled should be wasted, and ate them accordingly. This act is said to have led to the Bahurutshe being called Buchwene, Baboon people—which" (namely, the Baboon) "is their Siboko to this day—and their having the precedence ever afterwards in the matter of taking the first bite of the new year's fruits. If this be the true explanation," adds Mr. Price, "it is evident that what is now used as a term of honour was once a term of reproach. The Bakuena, too, are said to owe their Siboko (the Crocodile) to the fact that their people once ate an ox which had been killed by a crocodile."

Mr. Price, therefore, is strongly inclined to think "that the Siboko of all the tribes was originally a kind of nickname or term of reproach, but," he adds, "there is a good deal of mystery about the whole thing."

On this point Mr. Stow, to whom Mr. Price wrote the letter just cited, remarks in his MS.: "From the foregoing facts it would seem possible that the origin of the Siboko among these tribes arose from some sobriquet that had been given to them, and that, in course of time, as their superstitious and devotional feelings became more developed, these tribal symbols became objects of veneration and superstitious awe, whose favour was to be propitiated or malign influence averted...."[3]

Here it will be seen that these South African tribes account for their Siboko now by the myth deriving the sacredness of the tribal animal from ancestor-worship, as reported by Mr. Theal, and again by nicknames given to the tribes on account of certain undignified incidents.

This latter theory is very like my own as stated in Social Origins, and to be set forth and reinforced later in this work. But the theory, as held by the Bahurutsche and Bakuena, does not help to confirm mine in the slightest degree. Among these very advanced African tribes, the Siboko or tribal sacred animal, is the animal of the local tribe, not, as in pure totemism, of the scattered exogamous kin. It is probably a lingering remnant of totemism. The totem of the most powerful local group in a tribe having descent through males, appears to have become the Siboko of the whole tribe, while the other totems have died out. It is not probable that a nickname of remembered origin, given in recent times to a tribe of relatively advanced civilisation, should, as the myth asserts, not only have become a name of honour, but should have founded tribal animal-worship.

It was in a low state of culture no longer found on earth, that I conceive the animal names of groups not yet totemic, names of origin no longer remembered, to have arisen and become the germ of totemism.

Myths of the origin of totemism, in short, are of absolutely no historic value. Siboko no longer arise in the manner postulated by these African myths; these myths are not based on experience any more than is the Tsimshian myth of the Bear Totem, to be criticised later in a chapter on American Totemism. We are to be on our guard, then, against looking for the origins of totemism among the myths of peoples of relatively advanced culture, such as the village-dwelling Indians of the north-west coast of America. We must not look for origins among tribes, even if otherwise pristine, who reckon by male descent. We must look on all savage myths of origins merely as savage hypotheses, which, in fact, usually agree with one or other of our scientific modern hypotheses, but yield them no corroboration.

On the common fallacy of regarding the tribe of to-day, with its relative powers, as primitive, we have spoken in Chapter I.

By the nature of the case, as the origin of totemism lies far beyond our powers of historical examination or of experiment, we must have recourse as regards this matter to conjecture.

Here a word might be said as to the method of conjecture about institutions of which the origins are concealed "in the dark backward and abysm of time."

There are conjectures and conjectures! None is capable in every detail of historical demonstration, but one guess may explain all the known facts, and others may explain few or none. We are dealing with human affairs—they whose groups first answered to animal group-names were men as much as we are. They had reason; they had human language, spoken or by gesture, and human passions. That conjecture, therefore, which deals with the first totemists as men, men with plenty of human nature, is better than any rival guess which runs contrary to human nature as known in our experience of man, savage, barbaric, or civilised.

Once more, a set of guesses which are consistent with themselves is better than a set of guesses which can be shown to be even ludicrously self-contradictory. If any guess, again, colligates all the known facts, if any conjectural system will "march," will meet every known circumstance in the face, manifestly it is a better system than one which stumbles, breaks down, evades giving an answer to the problems, says that they are insoluble, is in contradiction with itself, and does not even try to colligate all the known facts. A consistent system, unmarred by self-contradictions; in accordance with known human nature; in accordance, too, with recognised rules of evolution, and of logic; and co-ordinating all known facts, if it is tried on them, cannot be dismissed with the remark that "there are plenty of other possible guesses."

Our method must be—having already stated the facts as they present themselves in the most primitive organisation of the most archaic society extant—to enumerate all the possible conjectures which have been logically (or even illogically) made as to the origin of the institutions before us.

All theories as to how these institutions arose, must rest, primarily, on a basis of conjecture as to the original social character of man. Nowhere do we see absolutely primitive man, and a totemic system in the making. The processes of evolution must have been very gradually developed in the course of distant ages, but our conjecture as to the nature, in each case, of the processes must be in accordance with what is known of human nature. Conjecture, too, has its logical limitations.

We must first make our choice, therefore, between the guess that the earliest human beings lived in very small groups (as, in everyday life, the natives of Australia are in many cases still compelled to do by the precarious nature of their food supplies), or the guess that earliest man was gregarious, and dwelt in a promiscuous horde with no sort of restraint. One or other view must be correct.

On the former guess (men originally lived in very small groups), the probable mutual hostility of group to rival group, the authority of the strongest male in each group, and the passions of jealousy, love, and hate, must inevitably have produced some rudimentary restrictions on absolute archaic freedom. Some people would be prevented from doing some things, they must have been checked by the hand of the stronger; and from the habit of restraint customary rules would arise. The advocates of the alternative conjecture—that man was gregarious, and utterly promiscuous—take it for granted (it seems to me) that the older and stronger males established no rudimentary restrictions on the freedom of the affections, but allowed the young males to share with them the females in the horde, and that they permitted both sexes to go entirely as they pleased, till, for some unknown reason and by some unknown authority, the horde was bisected into exogamous moieties (phratries), and after somehow developing totem kins (unless animal-named magical groups had been previously developed, on purpose to work magic), became a tribe with two phratries.

It is not even necessary for us to deny that the ancestors of man were originally communal and gregarious. What we deem to be impossible is that, till man had developed into something more like himself, as we know him, than an animal without jealousy, and ignorant of anything prejudicial to any one's interests in promiscuous unions, he could begin to evolve his actual tribal institutions. This is also the opinion of Mr. Howitt, as we shall see later.

Thus whoever tries to disengage the evolutionary processes which produced the existing society of Australia must commence by making his choice between the two conjectures—early man gregarious, promiscuous, and anarchist; or early man unsociable, fierce, bullying, and jealous. A via media is attempted, however, by Mr. Howitt, to which we shall return.

Next, it is clear and certain that some human beliefs about the animals which give their names, in known cases, to the two large exogamous divisions of the tribe (phratries), and about the other animals which give names to the totem kins, and, in one or two cases, to the matrimonial classes, must be, in some way, connected with the prohibitions to marry, first within the phratries, then, perhaps, within the totem kins, then within the Classes (or within the same generation).

Thus there are here five courses which conjecture can logically take.

(a) Members of certain recognised human groups already married habitually out of their group into other groups, before the animal names (now totem names) were given to the groups. The names came later and merely marked, at first, and then sanctioned, the limits within which marriage had already been forbidden while the groups were still nameless.

Or (b) the animal names of the phratries and totem kins existed (perhaps as denoting groups which worked magic for the behoof of each animal) before marriage was forbidden within their limits. Later, for some reason, prohibitions were enacted.

Or (c) at one time there were no marriage regulations at all, but these arose when, apparently for some religious reason, a hitherto undivided communal horde split into two sections, each of which revered a different name-giving animal as their "god" (totem), claimed descent from it, and, out of respect to their "god," did not marry any of those who professed its faith, and were called by its name, but always married persons of another name and "god."

Or (d) men were at first in groups, intermarrying within the group. These groups received names from animals and other objects, because individual men adopted animal "familiars," as Bear, Elk, Duck, Potato, Pine-tree. The sisters of the men next adopted these animal or vegetable "familiars," or protective creatures, from their brothers, and bequeathed them, by female descent, to their children. These children became groups bearing such names as Bear, Potato, Duck, and so on. These groups made treaties of marriage with each other, for political reasons of acquiring strength by union. The treaties declared that Duck should never marry Duck, but always Elk, and vice versa. This was exogamy, instituted for political purposes, to use the word "political" proleptically.

Or (e) men were at first in a promiscuous incestuous horde, but, perceiving the evils of this condition (whatever these evils might be taken to be), they divided it into two halves, of which one must never marry within itself, but always in the other. To these divisions animal names were given; they are the phratries. They threw off colonies, or accepted other groups, which took new animal names, and are now the totem kins.

Finally, in (f) conjectures (a) and (c) may be combined thus: groups of men, still nameless as groups, had for certain reasons the habit of not marrying within themselves; but, after receiving animal names, they developed an idea that the animal of each group was its kinsman, and that, for a certain superstitious reason, it was even more wrong than it had been before, to marry "within the blood" of the animal, as, for Emu to marry Emu. Or (f2) the small groups did marry within themselves till, after receiving animal names, they evolved the superstition that such marriage was a sin against the animals, and so became exogamous.

On the point of the original state of society conjecture seems to be limited to this field of possible choices. At least I am acquainted with no theory hitherto propounded, which does not set out from one or other of these conjectural bases. We must not attack each other's ideas merely because they start from conjectures: they can start in no other way. Our method must be to discover which conjecture, as it is developed, most consistently and successfully colligates all the ascertained facts and best endures the touchstone of logic.

Of the hypotheses enumerated above, the system to be advocated here is that marked (f 1 and 2). Men, whatever their brutal ancestors may have done, when they became men indeed, lived originally in small anonymous local groups, and had, for a reason to be given, the habit of selecting female mates from groups not their own. Or, if they had not this habit they developed the rule, after the previously anonymous local groups had received animal names, and after the name-giving animals came to receive the measure of respect at present given to them as totems.

The second hypothesis (b) (that the animal names of the groups were originally those of societies which worked magic, each for an animal, and that the prohibition on marriage was later introduced) has been suggested by Professor Baldwin Spencer and Mr. J. G. Frazer, and is accepted by Mr. Howitt.

The third conjecture (c) (man originally promiscuous, but ceasing to be so from religious respect for the totem, or "god") is that of Dr. Durkheim.

The fourth theory (d) is that of Mr. Hill-Tout.[4]

The fifth theory (e) was that of Mr. Howitt. He now adopts the similar theory of Mr. Spencer (b).

[1] The Dieri tribe do pray to the Mura-Mura, or mythical ancestors, but not, apparently, to the remembered dead.

[2] "Totemism, South Africa," J. G. Frazer, Man, 1901, No. III. Mr. Frazer does not, of course, adopt the Bantu myth as settling the question.

[3] Stow, MSS., 820. I owe the extract to Miss C. G. Burne.

[4] I have not included the theory of Dr. Westermarck, in the History of Human Marriage, because that work is written without any reference to totemism.


I have not included the theory of Mr. J. F. McLennan, the founder of all research into totemism. In his opinion, totemism, that is, the possession by different stocks of different name-giving animals, "is older than exogamy in all cases." That is, as Mr. Robertson Smith explains, "it is easy to see that exogamy necessarily presupposes the existence of a system of kinship which took no account of degrees, but only of participation in a common stock. Such an idea as this could not be conceived by savages in an abstract form; it must necessarily have had a concrete expression, or rather must have been thought under a concrete and tangible form, and that form seems to have been always supplied by totemism." (Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, p. 189, 1885). This means that, before they were exogamous, men existed in groups of animal name, as Ravens, Wolves, Ants, and so on. When they became conscious of kinship, and resolved to marry out of the kin, or stock, they fixed the name, say Raven, Wolf, or what not, as the limit within which there must be no marriage. But Mr. McLennan's theory as to why they determined to take no wives within the stock and name, has never been accepted. (See Westermarck, History of Human Marriage, pp. 311-314.)

Mr. McLennan supposed that female infanticide made women scarce in each group, and that therefore they stole each other's girls, and, finally, abstained from their own. But the objections to this hypothesis are infinite and obvious. At one time Mr. McLennan thought that tattooing was the origin of totemism. Members of each group tattooed the semblance of an animal on their flesh—but, as far as I am aware, he did not ask why they adopted this practice. Manifestly a sense of some special connection between the animal and the group must have been prior to the marking of the members of the group with the effigy of the animal. What gave rise to this belief in the connection? (See Chapter VI., criticism of Dr. Pikler). Mr, McLennan merely mentioned to me, in conversation, this idea, which he later abandoned. It had previously occurred to Garcilasso de la Vega that the germ of totemism was to be found in the mere desire to differentiate group from group; which is the theory to be urged later, the names being the instruments of differentiation.

Mr. A. K. Keane, as in Mr. McLennan's abandoned conjecture, and as in the theory of Dr. Pikler, makes totemism arise in "heraldic badges," "a mere device for distinguishing one individual from another, one family or clan group from another ... the personal or family name precedes the totem, which grows out of it." (Ethnology, pp. 9, II).



Why did man, if once promiscuous, regulate the relations of the sexes?—Theory of Professor Spencer—Animal-named magical societies were prior to regulation of marriage—Theory of Mr. Howitt—Regulations introduced by inspired medicine man—His motives unknown—The theory postulates the pristine existence of the organised tribe of to-day, and of belief in the All Father—Reasons for holding that men were originally promiscuous: (1) So-called survival of so-called "group marriage"; (2) Inclusive names of human relationships—Betrothals not denied—A form of marriage—Mitigated by Pirauru—Allotment of paramours at feasts—Is Pirauru a survival of group marriage?—Or a rare case of limitation of custom of feasts of license—Examples of such saturnalia—Fiji, Arunta, Urabunna, Dieri—Degrees of license—Argument against the author's opinion—Laws of incest older than marriage—Names of relationships—Indicate tribal status, not degrees of consanguinity—Fallacy exposed—Starcke versus Morgan's theory of primal promiscuity—Dr. Durkheim on Choctaw names of relationships—A man cannot regard his second cousin as his mother—Dr. Fison on anomalous terms of relationship—Grandfathers and grandsons call each other "brothers"—Noa denotes a man's wife and also all women whom he might legally wed—Proof that terms of relationship do not denote consanguinity—The Pirrauru custom implies previous marriage, and is not logically thinkable without it—Descriptions of Pirrauru—The Kandri ceremony merely modifies pre-existing marriage—Pirrauru is not "group marriage"—Is found only in tribes of the Matteri Kiraru phratries—Not found in south-eastern tribes—Mr. Howitt's "survivals" do not mean "group marriage."

In the theories which postulate that man began in a communal horde, with no idea of regulating sexual unions at all—because, having no notion of consanguinity, or of harm in consanguine marriages, he saw nothing to regulate—the initial difficulty is, how did he ever come to change his nature and to see that a rule must be made, as made it has been? Mr. Howitt endeavours (if I grasp his meaning) to show how man did at last see it, and therefore bisected the horde into intermarrying phratries. Mr. Spencer has only asserted that, while man saw nothing to regulate in marriages, he evolved an organisation, that of the phratries and classes, which did come, somehow, to regulate them. Dr. Durkheim takes it, that man if he was originally promiscuous, later regulated marriages out of respect to his totems, which were his gods. Mr. Hill-Tout supposes that the exogamous rules were made for "political" reasons.

The theories of Mr. Howitt and Mr. Spencer differed from each other, originally, only in so far as that Mr. Spencer supposes animal-named magical societies (now totemic) to have arisen before man regulated marriage in any way; whereas this conception of animal-named groups not bound by totemic restrictions on marriage had not occurred to Mr. Howitt or any other inquirer, except Mr. J. G. Frazer, who evolved it independently. Mr. Spencer's theory in this matter rests entirely on his discovery, among the Arunta, in Central Australia, of totems marking magical societies, but not regulating marriage, and on his inference that, in the beginning, animal-named groups were everywhere mere magical societies. To work co-operative magic was their primary function. To that opinion Mr. Howitt has now come in, and he adds that "the division of the tribe" (into the two primary exogamous moieties or phratries, or "classes") "was made with intent to regulate the relations of the sexes."[1] On one point, we repeat, namely, why division was made, Mr. Spencer utters no certain sound, nor does Mr. Howitt explicitly tell us for what reason sexual relations, hitherto unregulated, were supposed to need regulation. He conceives that there is "a widespread belief in the supernatural origin of the practice," but that explains nothing.[2]

Thus Mr. Howitt postulates the existence of a "tribe," divided into animal-named magical societies, and promiscuous. The tribe has "medicine men" who see visions. One of these men, conceiving, no one knows why, that it would be an excellent thing to regulate the relations of the sexes, announces to his fellow-men that he has received from a supernatural being a command to do so. If they approve, they declare the supernatural message "to the assembled headmen at one of the ceremonial meetings," the tribe obeys, and divides itself into the two primary exogamous moieties or phratries.[3] Mr. Howitt thus postulates the existence of the organised tribe, with its prophets, its "All Father" (such as Daramulun), its magical societies, its recognised headmen, and its public meetings for ceremonial and legislation, all in full swing, before the relations of the sexes are in any way regulated.

On reflection, Mr. Howitt may find difficulties in this postulate. Meanwhile, we ask what made the very original medicine man, the Moses of the tribe, think of the new and drastic command which he brought down from the local Sinai? Why did this thinker suppose that the relations of the sexes ought to be regulated? Perhaps the idea was the inspiration of a dream. Mr. Spencer, acquainted chiefly with tribes who have no All Father, has not advanced this theory.

The reasons given for supposing that the "tribe" was originally promiscuous are partly based (a) on the actual condition as regards individual marriage of some Australian tribes, mainly Dieri and Urabunna, with their congeners. These tribes, it is argued, are now no longer absolutely promiscuous, but men and women are divided into intermarriageable sets, so that all women of a certain status in Emu phratry are, or their predecessors have been, actual wives of all men of the corresponding status in Kangaroo phratry. The only bar to absolute promiscuity is that of the phratries (established by legislation on this theory), and of certain by-laws, of relatively recent institution. The names for human relationships (father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister), again, (b) are, it is argued, such as "group marriage," and "group marriage" alone, would inevitably produce. All women of a certain status are my "mothers," all men of a certain status are my "fathers," all women of another status are my "sisters," all of another are my "wives," and so on. Thus Mr. Spencer is able to say that "individual marriage does not exist either in name or in practice in the Urabunna tribe" at the present day.[4]

This, however, does not mean that among many such tribes a man is not betrothed to a special woman, and does not marry that woman, with certain filthy initiatory "rites," contravening the usual rules of intercourse.[5] Nor is it denied that such man and wife habitually cohabit, and that the man, by hunting and fishing, provides for the wife and all her children, and recognises them as his own.

It is meant that each man has only a certain set of nubile women open to him (Nupa, or Noa, or Unawa), and that out of these, in addition to his allotted bride, an uncertain number of women are assigned to him and to others, mainly at tribal festivals, as paramours (Pirauru or Piraungaru), by their elder brothers, or the heads of totem kins, or the seniors of the Urabunna tribe. "This relationship is usually established at times when considerable numbers of the tribe are gathered together to perform important ceremonies."[6] One woman may, on different occasions, be allotted as Piraungaru to different men, one man to different women. Occasionally, though rarely, the regular husband (he who marries the wife by filthy "rites") resists the allotting of his wife to another man, and then "there is a fight."

The question is, does this Urabunna custom of Piraungaru (the existence of which in some tribes is not denied) represent a survival of a primary stage in which all men of a certain social and phratriac status were all alike husbands to all women of the corresponding status (group, or rather status, marriage); and was that, in turn, a survival of the anarchy of the horde, in which there were no grades at all, but anarchic promiscuity?

That is the opinion of believers in "the primary undivided horde," and in "group marriage," or rather "status marriage."

Or is this Piraungaru custom, as we think more probable, an organised and circumscribed and isolated legalisation, among a few tribes, of the utterly unbridled license practised by many savages on festive occasions corresponding to the Persian feast of the Sacaea, and to the Roman Saturnalia?[7]

The Piraungaru allotments are made, as a rule, at great licentious meetings, but among the Urabunna, though they break the rules of individual marriage, they do not break the tribal rules of incest. By these rules the Piraungaru men and women must be legal intermarriageable persons (Nupa); their regulated paramourship is not, by tribal law, what we, or the natives, deem "incestuous." On the other hand, at Fijian seasons of license, even the relationship of brother and sister—the most sacred of all to a savage—is purposely profaned. Brothers and sisters are "intentionally coupled" at the feast of license called Nanga. The object is to have "a regular burst," and deliberately violate every law. Men and women "publicly practised unmentionable abominations."[8]

The Fijians are infinitely above the Urabunna in civilisation, being an agricultural people. Their Nanga feast is also called Mbaki—"harvest" Yet the Fijians, though more civilised, far exceed the license of the Piraungaru custom of the Urabunna, not only permitting, but enjoining, the extremest form of incest.

The Arunta, again, neighbours of the Urabunna, though said to have more of "individual marriage" than they, in seasons of license go much beyond the Urabunna, though not so far as the Fijians. Women, at certain large meetings, "are told off ... and with the exception of men who stand in the relation of actual Uther, brother, or sons, they are, for the time being, common property to all the men present on the corroboree ground." Women are thus handed over to men "whom, under ordinary circumstances, they may not even speak to or go near."[9] Every known rule, except that which forbids the closest incest as understood by ourselves, is deliberately and purposely reversed[10] by the Arunta on certain occasions. Another example will be produced later, that of the Dieri, neighbours of the Urabunna.

We suggest, then, that these three grades of license—the Urabunna, adulterous, but more or less permanent, and limited by rules and by tribal and modern laws of incest; the Arunta, not permanent, adulterous, and tribally incestuous, limited only by our own ideas of the worst kinds of incest; and the Fijian, not permanent, adulterous, and of an incestuous character not only unlimited by laws, but rather limited by the desire to break the most sacred laws—are all of the same kind. They are not, we suggest, survivals of "group marriage," or of a period of perfect promiscuity in everyday life, though that they commemorate such a fancied period is the Arunta myth, just as the Roman myth averred that the Saturnalia commemorated the anarchy of the Golden Age.

"In Saturn's time
Such mixture was not held a crime."

The Golden Age of promiscuity is, of course, reported, not in an historical tradition recording a fact, but in a myth invented to explain the feasts of license. Men find that they have institutions, they argue that they must once have been without institutions, they make myths about ancestors or gods who introduced institutions, they invent the Golden Age, when there were none, and, on occasion, revert for a day or a week to that happy ideal. The periods of license cannot be true commemorative functions, continued in pious memory of a time of anarchy since institutions began.

But of the three types, Urabunna, Arunta, Fijian, the Urabunna, except in its degree of permanence, is the least licentious, least invades law, and it is a curious question why incest increases at these feasts as culture advances, up to a certain point. The law invaded by the Urabunna Piraungaru custom is not the tribal law of incest, nor the modern law of incest, but the law of the sanctity of individual marriage. It may therefore be argued (as against my own opinion) that the sanctity of individual marriage is still merely a nascent idea among the Urabunna, an idea which is recent, and so can be set aside easily; whereas the tribal laws of incest are strong with the strength of immemorial antiquity, and therefore must have already existed in a past age when there was no individual marriage at all. On this showing we have, first, the communal undivided horde; next, the horde bisected into groups which must not marry within each other (phratries), though why this arrangement was made and submitted to nobody can guess with any plausibility. By this time all females of phratry A might not only marry any man of phratry B, but were, according to the hypothesis, by theory and by practice, all wives of all men of phratry B. Next, as to-day, a man of B married a woman of A, with or without the existing offensive rites, but his tenure of her is still so insecure and recent that it is set aside, to a great extent, by the Piraungaru or Pirauru custom, itself a proof and survival of "group marriage," and of communal promiscuity in the past. Such is the argument for "group marriage," which may be advanced against my opinion, or thus, if I did not hold my opinion, I would state the argument.

This licentious custom, whether called Piraungaru or by other names, is, with the tribal names for human relationships, the only basis of the belief in the primal promiscuous horde. Now, as to these names of relationships, we may repeat the adverse arguments already advanced by us in Social Origins, pp. 99-103. "Whatever the original sense of the names, they all now denote seniority and customary legal status in the tribe, with the reciprocal duties, rights, and avoidances.... The friends of group and communal marriage keep unconsciously forgetting, at this point of their argument, that our ideas of sister, brother, father, mother, and so on, have nothing to do (as they tell us at certain other points of their argument) with the native terms, which include, indeed, but do not denote these relationships as understood by us.... We cannot say 'our word "son" must not be thought of when we try to understand the native term of relationship which includes sons—in our sense,' and next aver that 'sons, in our sense, are regarded [or spoken of] as real sons of the group, not of the individual, because of a past [or present] stage of promiscuity which made real paternity undiscoverable.'"

Manifestly there lurks a fallacy in alternately using "sons," for example, in our sense, and then in the tribal sense, which includes both fatherhood, or sonship, in our sense, and also tribal status and duties. "The terms, in addition to their usual and generally accepted signification of relationship by blood, express a class or group relation quite independent of it."[11]

Thus the tribal names may result from an expanded use of earlier names of blood relationship, or names of tribal status may now be applied to include persons who are within degrees of blood relationship. In the latter case, how do we know that a tribe with its degrees of status is primitive? Starcke thinks that Mr. Morgan's use of terms of relationship as proof of "communal marriage" is "a wild dream, if not the delirium of fever." "The nomenclature was in every respect the faithful reflection of the juridical relations which arose between the nearest kinsfolk of each tribe. Individuals who were, according to the legal point of view, on the same level with the speaker, received the same designation. The other categories of kinship were formally developed out of this standpoint." The system of names for relationships "affords no warrant" for Mr. Morgan's theory of primitive promiscuity.[12]

Similar arguments against inferring collective marriage in the past from existing tribal terms of relationship are urged by Dr. Durkheim.[13] He writes, taking an American case of names of relationship, as against Professor Kohler: "We see that the (Choctaw) word Inoha (mother) applies indifferently to all the women of my mother's group, from the oldest to the youngest. The term thus defines its own meaning: it applies to all the women of the family (or clan?) into which my father has married. Doubtless it is rather hard to understand how the same term can apply to so many different people. But certain it is, that the word cannot awake, in men's minds, any idea of descent, in the usual sense of the word. For a man cannot seriously regard his second cousin as his mother, even virtual. The vocabulary of relationships must therefore express something other than relations of consanguinity, properly so-called.... Relationship and consanguinity are very different things ... relationship being essentially constituted by certain legal and moral obligations, which society imposes on certain individuals."[14]

The whole passage should be read, but its sense is that which I have already tried to express; and Dr. Durkheim says, "The hypothesis of collective marriage has never been more than an ultima ratio" (a last resource), "intended to enable us to envisage these strange customs; but it is impossible to overlook all the difficulties which it raises."

An analogous explanation of the wide use of certain terms of relationship has been given by Dr. Fison, of whom Mr. Howitt writes, "Much of what I have done is equally his."[15] Dr. Fison says, "All men of the same generation who bear the same totem are tribally brothers, though they may belong to different and widely separated tribes. Here we find an explanation of certain apparently anomalous terms of relationship. Thus, in some tribes the paternal grandson and his grandfather call one another 'elder brother' and 'younger brother' respectively. These persons are of the same totem."[16] "Many other designations" in Mr. Morgan's Tables of Terms of Relationship "admit of a similar solution."[17] The terms do not denote degrees of blood relationship, but of brotherhood in the totem (or phratry, or matrimonial class). It is so, too, with the Choctaw term for Mother. Every one knows who his mother, in our sense, is: the Choctaw term denotes a tribal status.

If it be said that, because a man calls his wife his Noa, and also calls all women whom he might have married his Noa, therefore all these women, in past times, would have been his wives; it might as well be said that all the women whom he calls "mother" would, in times past, have collaborated in giving birth to him. As far as these terms indicate relationship, "a man is the younger brother of his maternal grandmother," and the maternal grandfather of his second cousin![18] The terms do not denote relationship in blood, clearly, but something quite different.

The custom of Piraungaru, or Pirrauru, and cases of license at festivals, and the names for tribal relations, are, we repeat, the only arguments in favour of the theory of the communal horde.[19] We have shown that the terms of relationship do not necessarily help the theory. That theory, again, is invalidated by its inability to account for the origin of the rules forbidding marriage between persons of the same phratry (for it does not tell us why the original medicine man conceived the idea of regulations), or even to account for the origin of the phratriac divisions.

But why, on our system, can the Piraungaru custom break the rule of individual marriage more easily than the law prohibiting incest? Why it can do so on the theory of pristine promiscuity we have explained (p. 41, supra).

We reply that individual marriage has not, among savages, any "religious" sanction; it is protected by no form of the phratry or totem tabu; by no god, such as Hymen; but rests, as from the first it rested, on the character and strength of the possessor of the woman or women, and falls into abeyance if he does not choose to exert it. If the males of the Urabunna have so far departed from the natural animal instincts as usually (with exceptions) to prefer to relax their tenure of women, being tempted by the bribe of a legalised change of partners all round, they exhibit, not a primitive, but a rather advanced type of human nature. The moral poet sings:—

"Of Whist or Cribbage mark the amusing Game,
The Partners changing, but the Sport the same,
Then see one Man with one unceasing Wife,
Play the long Rubber of connubial Life."[20]

This is the "platform" of the Urabunna and Dieri, as it is of the old Cicisbeism in Italy, and of a section of modern "smart society," especially at the end of the ancien régime in France. Man may fall into this way of thinking, just as, in Greece, he actually legalised unnatural passions by a ceremony of union. "That one practice, in many countries, became systematised," as Mr. J. F. McLennan wrote to Mr. Darwin.[21]

This is not the only example of a legalised aberration from nature, or from second nature. Abhorrence of incest has become a law of second nature, among savage as among civilised men. But Dr. Durkheim publishes a long list of legalised aberrations from the laws of incest among Hebrews, Arabs, Phœnicians, Greeks, Slavonic peoples, Medes, Persians, Egyptians, Cambodians, and Peruvians.[22] If these things, these monstrous aberrations, can be legalised "in the green tree," why should not jealousy fall into a kind of legalised abeyance among the Urabunna, under the law of partner-shifting? The Piraungaru custom does not prove that earliest man was not ferociously jealous; it merely shows that certain tribes have reached a stage in which jealousy is, at present, more or less suppressed in favour of legalised license.

We catch the Urabunna and Dieri at a moment of development in which the abandonment of strict possession of a wife is compensated for by a legalised system of changing partners, enduring after the feast of license is over. But even so, a man is responsible, as father, for the children of his actual wife, not for the children of his Piraungaru paramours. For these their actual husbands (Tippa Malku) are responsible.

Mr. Howitt says, in his earlier account of this institution, that among the Dieri, neighbours of the Urabunna, the men and women who are made Pirauru are not consulted. The heads of the tribe do not ask whether they fancy each other or not. "The time is one of festivity, feasting, and amusement," only too obviously! "Dancing is carried on." "A man can always exercise marital rights towards his Pirauru, if they meet when her Noa (real husband) is absent, but he cannot take her away from him unless by his consent," except at the feasts. But the husband usually consents. "In spite of all this arrangement, most of the quarrels among the Dieri arise out of this Pirauru practice.... "A son or daughter regards the real husband (Noa) of his mother as his Apiri Muria, or "real father"; his mother's Pirauru is only his Apiri Waka, or "little father." At certain feasts of license, such as intertribal marriages, "no jealous feeling is allowed under penalty of strangling, but it crops up afterwards, and occasions many bloody affrays."[23] Thus jealousy is not easily kept in abeyance by customary law.

The idea of such a change of partners is human, not animal, and the more of a brute the ancestor of man was the less could he dream, in times truly primitive, of Piraungaru as a permanent arrangement. Men, in a few tribes, declined into it, and are capable of passing out of it, like the Urabunna or Dieri man, who either retains so much of the animal, or is rising so far towards the Homeric standard, as to fight rather than let his wife be allotted to another man, or at least to thump that other man afterwards.

The Dieri case of the feast of license, just mentioned, is notable. "The various Piraurus (paramours) are allotted to each other by the great council of the tribe, after which their names are formally announced to the assembled people on the evening of the ceremony of circumcision, during which there is for a time a general license permitted between all those who have been thus allotted to each other." But persons of the same totem among the Dieri may not be Piraurus to each other, nor may near relations as we reckon kinship, including cousins on both sides.

In this arrangement Mr. Howitt sees "a form of group marriage," while I see tribe-regulated license, certainly much less lawless than that of the more advanced Fijians or the Arunta. Mr. Howitt did not state that the Pirauru or Piraungaru unions are preceded (as marriage is) by any ceremony, unless the reading the banns, so to speak, by public proclamation among the Dieri is a ceremony.[24] Now he has discovered a ceremony as symbolic as our wedding ring (1904).

Little light, if any, is thrown on these customs of legalised license by philology. Mr. Howitt thought that Pirauru may be derived from Pira, "the moon," and Uru, "circular." The tribal feasts of license are held at the full moon, but I am not aware that, by the natives, people are deemed peculiarly "moonstruck," or lunatic, at that season. If Urabunna Piraungaru is linguistically connected with Dieri Pirauru, then both Piraungaru and Pirauru may mean "Full Mooners." "Thy full moons and thy festivals are an abomination to me!"[25]

Among the Dieri, "a woman becomes the Noa of a man most frequently by being betrothed to him when she is a mere infant.... In certain cases she is given by the Great Council, as a reward for some meritorious act on his part." "None but the brave deserve the fair," and this is "individual marriage," though the woman who is wedded to one man may be legally allotted as Full Mooner, or Pirauru, to several. "The right of the Noa overrides that of the Pirauru. Thus a man cannot claim a woman who is Pirauru to him when her Noa is present in the camp, excepting by his consent." The husband generally yields, he shares equivalent privileges. "Such cases, however, are the frequent causes of jealousies and fights."[26]

This evidence does not seem, on the whole, to force upon us the conclusion that the Urabunna Piraungaru custom, or any of these customs, any more than the custom of polyandry, or of legalised incest in higher societies, is a survival of "group marriage"—all men of certain social grades being actual husbands of all women of the corresponding grades—while again that is a survival of gradeless promiscuity. We shall disprove that theory. Rather, the Piraungaru custom appears to be a limited concession to the taste, certainly a human taste, for partner-changing—which can only manifest itself where regular partnerships already exist. Jealousy among these tribes is in a state of modified abeyance: like nature herself, and second nature, where, among civilised peoples, things unnatural, or contrary to the horror of incest, have been systematically legalised.

I have so far given Mr. Howitt's account of Pirrauru (the name is now so written by him) among the Dieri, as it appeared in his works, prior to 1904. In that year he published his Native Tribes of South-East Australia, which contains additional details of essential importance (pp. 179-187). A woman becomes Tippa Malku,[27] or affianced,[28] to one man only, before she becomes Pirrauru, or what Mr. Howitt calls a "group wife." A "group wife," I think, no woman becomes. She is never the Pirrauru of all the men who are Noa to her, that is, intermarriageable with her. She is merely later allotted, after a symbolic ceremony, as a Pirrauru to one or more men, who are Noa to her. At first, while a child, or at least while a maiden, she is betrothed (there are varieties of modes) to one individual male. She may ask her husband to let her take on another man as Pirrauru; "should he refuse to do this she must put up with it." If he consents, other men make two adjacent ridges of sand, and level them into one larger ridge, while a man, usually the selected lover, pours sand from the ridge over the upper part of his thighs, "buries the Pirrauru in the sand." (The phrase does not suggest that Pirrauru means "Full Mooners.") This is the Kandri ceremony, it is performed when men swop wives (exchange their Noa as Pirraurus), and also when "the whole of the marriageable or married people, even those who are already Pirrauru, are reallotted," a term which suggests the temporary character of the unions.

I am ready to allow that the Kandri ceremony, a symbol of recognised union, like our wedding ring, or the exchanged garlands of the Indian Ghandarva rite, constitutes, in a sense, marriage, or a qualified union recognised by public opinion. But it is a form of union which is arranged subsequent to the Tippa Malku ceremony of permanent betrothal and wedlock. Moreover, it is, without a shadow of doubt, subsequent in time and in evolution to the "specialising" of one woman to one man in the Tippa Malku arrangement. That arrangement is demonstrably more primitive than Pirrauru, for Pirrauru is unthinkable, except as a later (and isolated) custom in modification of Tippa Malku.

This can easily be proved. On Mr. Howitt's theory, "group marriage" (I prefer to say "status marriage") came next after promiscuity. All persons legally intermarriageable (Noa), under phratry law, were originally, he holds, ipso facto, married. Consequently the Kandri custom could not make them more married than they then actually were. In no conceivable way could it widen the area of their matrimonial comforts, unless it enabled them to enjoy partners who were not Noa, not legally intermarriageable with them. But this the Kandri ceremony does not do. All that it does is to permit certain persons who are already Tippa Malku (wedded) to each other, to acquire legal paramours in certain other wedded or Tippa Malku women, and in men either married or bachelors. Thus, except as a legalised modification of individual Tippa Malku, Pirrauru is impossible, and its existence is unthinkable.[29]

Pirrauru is a modification of marriage (Tippa Malku), Tippa Malku is not a modification of "group marriage." If it were, a Tippa Malku husband, "specialising" (as Mr. Howitt says) a woman to himself, would need to ask the leave of his fellows, who are Noa to his intended fiancée.[30] The reverse is the case. A man cannot take his Pirrauru woman away from her Tippa Malku husband "unless by his consent, excepting at certain ceremonial times"—feasts, in fact, of license. Pirrauru secures the domestic peace, more or less, of the seniors, by providing the young men (who otherwise would be wifeless and desperate) with legalised lemans. By giving these Pirrauru "in commendation" to the young men, older men increase their property and social influence. What do the Tippa Malku husbands say to this arrangement?

As for "group" marriage, there is nothing of the kind; no group marries another group, the Pirrauru literally heap hot coals on each other if they suspect that their mate is taking another of the "group" as Pirrauru. The jealous, at feasts of license, are strangled (Nulina). The Rev. Otto Siebert, a missionary among the Dieri, praises Pirrauru for "its earnestness in regard to morality." One does not quite see that hiring out one's paramours, who are other men's wives, to a third set of men is earnestly moral, or that jealousy, checked by strangling in public, by hot coals in private, is edifying, but Pirrauru is not "group marriage." No pre-existing group is involved. Pirrauru may (if they like jealousy and hot coals) live together in a group, or the men and women may often live far remote from each other, and meet only at bean-feasts.

You may call Pirrauru a form of "marriage," if you like, but, as a later modification of a prior Tippa Malku wedlock, it cannot be cited as a proof of a yet more pristine status-marriage of all male to all female intermarriageable persons, which supposed state of affairs is called "group marriage."[31]

If Pirrauru were primitive, it might be looked for among these southern and eastern tribes which, with the pristine social organisation of the Urabunna and their congeners, lack the more recent institutions of circumcision, subincision, totemic magic, possess the All Father belief, but not the belief in prehuman predecessors, or, at least, in their constant reincarnation. (This last is not a Dieri belief.) But among these primitive south-east tribes, Pirrauru is no more found than subincision. Nor is it found among the Arunta and the northern tribes. It is an isolated "sport" among the Dieri, Urabunna, and their congeners. Being thus isolated, Pirrauru cannot claim to be a necessary step in evolution from "group marriage" to "individual marriage." It may, however, though the point is uncertain, prevail, or have prevailed, "among all the tribes between Port Lincoln and the Yerkla-mining at Eucla," that is, wherever the Dieri and Urabunna phratry names, Matteri and Kararu, exist.[32] Having identical phratry names (or one phratry name identical, as among the Kunandaburi), whether by borrowing or by original community of language and institutions: all these tribes southward to the sea from Lake Eyre may possess, or may have possessed, Pirrauru.

Among the most pristine of all tribes, in the south by east, however, Pirrauru is not found. When we reach the Wiimbaio, the Geawe-gal, the Kuinmarbura, the Wakelbura, and the Narrang-ga, we find no Pirrauru. But Mr. Howitt notes other practices which are taken by him to be mere rudimentary survivals of "group marriage." They are (i.) exchange of wives at feasts of marriage, or in view of impending misfortune, as when shipwrecked mariners break into the stores, and are "working at the rum and the gin." These are feasts of license, not survivals of "group marriage" nor of Pirrauru. (ii.) The jus primae noctis, enjoyed by men of the bridegroom's totem. This is not marriage at all, nor is it a survival of Pirrauru. (iii.) Very rare "saturnalia," "almost promiscuous." This is neither "group marriage" (being almost promiscuous and very rare) nor Pirrauru. (iv.) Seven brothers have one wife. This is adelphic polyandry, Mr. Howitt calls it "group marriage." (v.) "A man had the right to exchange his wife for the wife of another man, but the practice was not looked upon favourably by the clan." If this is "group marriage" (there is no "group" concerned) there was group marriage in ancient Rome.[33] This, I think, is all that Mr. Howitt has to show for "group marriage" and Pirrauru among the tribes most retentive of primitive usages.

The manner in which Tippa Malku betrothals are arranged deserves attention. They who "give this woman away," and they who give away her bride-groom also, are the brothers of the mothers of the pair, or the mothers themselves may arrange the matter.[34]

Mr. Howitt, on this point, observes that, if the past can be judged of by the present, "I should say that the practice of betrothal, which is universal in Australia, must have produced a feeling of individual proprietary right over the women so promised." Manifestly Mr. Howitt is putting the plough before the oxen. It is because certain kinsfolk have an acknowledged "proprietary right" over the woman that they can betroth her to a man: it is not because they can betroth her to a man that they have "a feeling of individual proprietary right over her." I give my coppers away to a crossing-sweeper, or exchange them for commodities, because I have an individual proprietary right over these coins. I have not acquired the feeling of individual proprietary right over the pence by dint of observing that I do give them away or buy things with them.

The proprietary rights of mothers, maternal uncles, or any other kinsfolk over girls must, of course, have been existing and generally acknowledged before these kinsfolk could exercise the said rights of giving away. But, in a promiscuous horde, before marriage existed, how could anybody know what persons had proprietary rights over what other persons?[35]

Mr. Howitt here adds that the "practice of betrothal ..." (or perhaps he means that "the feeling of individual proprietary right"?) "when accentuated by the Tippa Malku marriage, must also tend to overthrow the Pirrauru marriage." Of course we see, on the other hand, and have proved, that if there were no Tippa Malku marriage there could be no Pirrauru to overthrow.

As to the Pirrauru or Piraungaru custom, moreover, Mr. Howitt has himself candidly observed that, on his theory, it "ought rather to have been perpetuated than abandoned" (so it is abandoned) "under conditions of environment" (such as more abundant food) "which permitted the Pirrauru group to remain together on one spot, instead of being compelled by the exigencies of existence to separate into lesser groups having the Noa" (or regular) "marriage."[36] So Pirrauru don't live in "groups"!

As a fact, the more that supplies, in some regions, as on the south coast, permit relatively large groups to coexist, the less is their marital license; while, on the other hand, the less favourable the conditions of supply (as in the Barkinji region), the less do we hear of Pirrauru, or anything of the kind, except among tribes of the Kiraru and Matteri phratries. For these reasons, Pirrauru unions appear to mark an isolated moment in culture, not to be a survival of universal pristine promiscuity. They are almost always associated, in their inception, with seasons of frolic and lust, and with large assemblages, rather than with the usual course of everyday existence.

For the reasons here stated, it does not seem that Australian institutions yield any evidence for primitive promiscuity.

[1] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 89.

[2] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 90.

[3] Loc. cit. Mr. Howitt says "classes," but we adhere to the term "phratries."

[4] Natives of Central Australia, Spencer and Gillen, p. 63.

[5] Spencer end Gillen, pp. 92-98.

[6] Natives of Central Australia, Spencer and Gillen, p. 63.

[7] For a large account of these customs see The Golden Bough, second edition.

[8] Fison, J.A.I., xiv. p. 28.

[9] Natives of Central Australia, Spencer and Gillen, p. 97.

[10] Ibid., p. 111.

[11] Roth, N.W.C. Queensland Aborigines, p. 56.

[12] Starcke, The Primitive Family, p. 207.

[13] L'Année Sociologique, i. pp. 313-316.

[14] L'Année Sociologique, i. p. 315.

[15] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, xiv.

[16] Can Dr. Fison mean of the same matrimonial class?

[17] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, pp. 166, 167.

[18] Native Races of South-East Australia, p. 163. Pointed out by Mr. N. W. Thomas.

[19] The participation of many men in the jus primae noctis is open to various explanations.

[20] Poetry of the Antijacobin.

[21] Studies in Ancient History, ii. p. 52.

[22] L'Année Sociologique, i., pp.38, 39, 62.

[23] J. A. I., pp. 56-60, August 1890.

[24] Howitt, J. A. I., August 1890, pp. 55-58.

[25] What the Dieri call Pirauru (legalised paramour) the adjacent Kunan-daburi tribe call Dilpa Mali. In this tribe the individual husband or individual wife (that is, the real wife or husband) is styled Nubaia, in Dieri Noa, in Urabunna Nupa. Husband's brother, sister's husband, wife's sister, and brother's wife are all Nubaia Kodimali in Kunandabori, and are all Noa in Dieri. What Dilpa Mali (legalised paramour, or "accessory wife or husband") means in Kunandabori Mr. Howitt does not know. But he learns that Kodi Mali (applied to Pirauru) means "not Nubaia," that is, "not legal individual husband or wife." If we knew what Dilpa means in Dilpa Mali (legalised paramour of either sex), we should know more than we are apt to do in the present state of Australian philology.

At Port Lincoln a man calls his own wife Yung Ara, that of his brother Karteti (Trans. Phil. Soc. Vic., v. 180). What do these words mean?—Report of Regents of Smithsonian Institute, 1883, pp. 804-806.

[26] Report of Regents of Smithsonian Institute, 1883, p. 807.

[27] Tippa, in one tongue, Malku in another, denote the tassel which is a man's full dress suit.

[28] Mr. Howitt says that the pair are Tippa Malku "for the time being" (p. 179), though the association seems to be permanent. May girls Tippa Malku—"sealed" to a man—have relations with other men before their actual marriage, and with what men? We are not told, but a girl cannot be a Pirrauru before she is Tippa Malku. If Pirrauru "arises through the exchange by brothers of their wives" (p. 181), how can an unmarried man who has no wife become a Pirrauru? He does. When Pirrauru people are "re-allotted" (p. 182), does the old connection persist, or is it broken, or is it merely in being for the festive occasion? How does the jealousy of the Pirrauru, which is great, like the change? These questions, and many more, are asked by Mr. N. W. Thomas.

[29] Will any one say, originally all Noa people were actual husbands and wives to each other? Then the Kandri ceremony and Pirrauru were devised to limit Tom, Dick, and Harry, &c., to Jane, Mary, and Susan, &c., all these men being Pirrauru to all these women, and vice versa. Next, Tippa Malku was devised, limiting Jane to Tom, but Pirrauru was retained, to modify that limitation. Anybody is welcome to this mode of making Pirrauru logically thinkable, without prior Tippa Malku: if he thinks that the arrangement is logically thinkable, which I do not.

[30] Or his seniors would hare to ask it. But his kin could not possess the tight to betroth him before kinship was recognised, which, before marriage existed, it could not be.

[31] I have here had the advantage of using a MS. note by Mr. N. W. Thomas.

[32] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 191.

[33] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 195, 217, 219, 224, 260.

[34] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 177, 178.

[35] Ibid., p. 283.

[36] J. A. I., xiii. p. 34.



How could man, if promiscuous, cease to be so?—Opinion of Mr. Howitt—Ethical training in groups very small, by reason of economic conditions—Likes and dislikes—Love and jealousy—Distinctions and restrictions—Origin of restrictions not explained by Professor Spencer—His account of the Arunta—Among them the totem does not regulate marriage, is not exogamous, denotes a magical society—Causes of this unique state of things—Male descent: doctrine of reincarnation, belief in spirit-haunted stone churinga nanja—Mr. Spencer thinks Arunta totemism pristine—This opinion contested—How Arunta totemism ceased to regulate marriage—Result of isolated belief in churinga nanja—Contradictory Arunta myths—Arunta totemism impossible in tribes with female descent—Case of the Urabunna—Origin of churinga nanja belief—Sacred stone objects in New South Wales—Present Arunta belief perhaps based on myths explanatory of stone amulets of unknown meaning—Proof that the more northern tribes never held the Arunta belief in churinga nanja—Traces of Arunta ideas among the Euahlayi—Possible traces of a belief in a sky-dwelling being among southern Arunta—Mr. Gillen's "great Ulthaana of the heavens"—How arose the magic-working animal-named Arunta societies?—Not found in the south-east—Mr. Spencer's theory that they do survive—Criticism of his evidence—Recapitulation—Arunta totemism not primitive but modified.

Next we have to ask how, granting the hypothesis of the promiscuous horde, man ceased to be promiscuous. It will be seen that, on a theory of Mr. Howitt's, man was, in fact, far on the way of ceasing to be promiscuous or a "horde's man," before he introduced the moral reform of bisecting his horde into phratries, for the purpose of preventing brother with sister marriages. Till unions were permanent, and kin recognised, things impossible in a state of promiscuity, nobody could dream of forbidding brother and sister marriage, because nobody could know who was brother or sister to whom. Now, Mr. Howitt does indicate a way in which man might cease to be promiscuous, before any sage invented the system of exogamous phratries.

He writes,[1] "I start ... from the assumption that there was once an undivided commune ... I do not desire to be understood as maintaining that it implies necessarily the assumption of complete communism between the sexes. Assuming that the former physical conditions of the Australian continent were much as they are now, complete communism always existing would, I think, be an impossibility. The character of the country, the necessity of hunting for food, and of removing from one spot to another in search of game and of vegetable food, would necessarily cause any undivided commune, when it assumed dimensions of more than that of a few members, to break up, under the necessities of existence, into two or more communes of similar constitution to itself. In addition to this it has become evident to me, after a long acquaintance with the Australian savage, that, in the past as now, individual likes and dislikes must have existed; so that, although there was the admitted common right between certain groups of the commune, in practice these rights would either not be exercised by reason of various causes, or would remain in abeyance, so far as the separated but allied undivided communes were concerned, until on great ceremonial occasions, or where certain periodical gatherings for food purposes reunited temporarily all the segments of the original community. In short, so far as the evidence goes at present, I am inclined to regard the probable condition of the undivided commune as being well represented now by what occurs when on certain occasions the modified divided communes reunite."[2]

What occurs in these festive assemblies among certain central and northern tribes, as we have seen, is a legalised and restricted change of wives all round, with disregard, in some cases, of some of the tribal rules against incest. On Mr. Howitt's theory the undivided communal horde must always have been, as I have urged, dividing itself, owing to lack of supplies. It would be a very small group, continually broken up, and intercourse of the sexes even in that group, must have been restrained by jealousy, based on the asserted existence of individual "likes" and "dislikes." These restrictions, again, must have led to some idea that the man usually associated with, and responsible for feeding, and protecting, and correcting the woman and her children, was just the man who "liked" her, the man whom she "liked," and the man who "disliked" other men if they wooed her.

But that state of things is not an undivided communal horde at all! It is much more akin to the state of things in which I take marriage rules to have arisen.

We may suppose, then, that early moral distinctions and restrictions grew up among the practically "family" groups of everyday life, as described by Mr. Howitt, and we need not discuss again the question whether, at this very early period, there existed a community exactly like the local tribe of to-day in every respect—except that marriage was utterly unregulated, till an inspired medicine man promulgated the law of exogamy, his own invention.

Mr. Howitt began his long and invaluable studies of these problems as a disciple of Mr. Lewis Morgan. That scholar was a warm partisan of the primeval horde, of group marriage, and (at times) of a reformatory movement. These ideas, first admitted to Mr. Howitt's mind, have remained with him, but he has seen clearly that the whole theory needed at least that essential modification which his practical knowledge of savage life has enabled him to make. He does not seem to me to hold that the promiscuous horde suddenly, for no reason, reformed itself: his reformers had previous ethical training in a state of daily life which is not that of the hypothetical horde. But he still clings to the horde, tiny as it must have been, as the source of a tradition of a brief-lived period of promiscuity. This faith is but the "after-image" left in his mental processes by the glow of Mr. Morgan's theory, but the faith is confirmed by his view of the terms of relationship, and of the Piraungaru, Pirrauru, and similar customs. We have shown, in the last chapter, that the terms and the customs are not necessarily proofs of promiscuity in the past, but may be otherwise interpreted with logical consistency, and in conformity with human nature.

The statement of Mr. Howitt shows how the communal horde of the hypothesis might come to see that it needed moral reformation. In daily life, by Mr. Howitt's theory, it had practically ceased to be a communal horde before the medicine man was inspired to reform it. The hypothesis of Professor Baldwin Spencer resembles that of Mr. Howitt, but, unlike his (as it used to stand), accounts for the existence of animal-named sets of people within the phratries. Mr. Spencer, starting from the present social condition of the Arunta "nation" or group of tribes (Arunta, Kaitish, Ilpirra, Unmatjera), supposes that these tribes retain pristine traits, once universal, but now confined to them. The peculiar pristine traits, by the theory, are (1) the existence of animal-named local societies for magical purposes. The members of each local group worked magic for their name-giving animal or plant, but any one might marry a woman of his own group name, Eagle Hawk, Cockatoo, and the like, while these names were not inherited, either from father or mother, and did not denote a bond of kinship. Mr. Spencer, then, supposes the horde to have been composed of such magical societies, at a very remote date, before sexual relations were regulated by any law. Later, in some fashion, and for some reason which Mr. Spencer does not profess to explain, "there was felt the need of some form of organisation, and this gradually resulted in the development of exogamous groups."[3] These "exogamous groups," among the Arunta, are now the four or eight "matrimonial classes," as among other tribes of northern Australia. These tribes, as a rule, have phratries, but the Arunta have lost even the phratry names.

Mr. Spencer's theory thus explains the existence of animal-named groups—as co-operative magical societies, for breeding the animals or plants—but does not explain how exogamy arose, or why, everywhere, except among the Arunta, all the animal or plant named sets of people are kinships, and are exogamous, while they are neither the one or the other among the Arunta. Either the Arunta groups have once been exogamous totem kinships, and have ceased to be so, becoming magical societies; or such animal-named sets of people have, everywhere, first been magical societies, and later become exogamous totem kinships. Mr. Spencer holds the latter view, we hold the former, believing that the Arunta have once been in the universal state of totemic exogamy, and that, by a perfectly intelligible process, their animal-named groups have become magical societies, no longer exogamous kinships. We can show how the old exogamous totem kinship, among the Arunta, became a magical society, not regulating sexual relations; but we cannot imagine how all totemic mankind, if they began with magical societies in an unregulated horde, should have everywhere, except among the Arunta, conspired to convert these magical societies into kinships with exogamy. If the social organisation of the Arunta were peculiarly primitive, if their beliefs and ceremonials were of the most archaic type, there might be some ground for Mr. Spencer's opinion. But Mr. Hartland justly says that all the beliefs and institutions of the Arunta "point in the same direction, namely, that the Arunta are the most advanced and not the most primitive of the Central Australian tribes."[4]

The Arunta, a tribe so advanced that it has forgotten its phratry names, has male kinship, eight matrimonial classes, and local totem groups, with Headmen hereditary in the male line, and so cannot possibly be called "primitive," as regards organisation. If, then, the tribe possesses a peculiar institution, contravening what is universally practised, the natural inference is that the Arunta institution, being absolutely isolated and unique, as far as its non-exogamy goes, in an advanced tribe, is a local freak or "sport," like many others which exist. This inference seems to be corroborated when we discover, as we do at a glance, the peculiar conditions without which the Arunta organisation is physically impossible. These essential and indispensable conditions are admitted by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen to be:—

1. Male reckoning of descent—which is found in very many tribes where totems are exogamous—as everywhere.

2. Local totem groups, which are a result of male reckoning of descent. These also are found in many other tribes where, as everywhere, totems are exogamous.

3. The belief that the spirits of the primal ancestors of the "Dream-Time" (Alcheringa)—creatures evolved out of various animal shapes into human form—are constantly reincarnated in new-born children. This belief is found in all the northern tribes with male descent; and among the Urabunna, who have female descent—but among all these tribes totems are exogamous, as everywhere.

4. The Arunta and Kaitish, with two or three minor neighbouring tribes, believe that spirits desiring incarnation, all of one totem in each case, reside "at certain definite spots." So do the Urabunna believe, but at each of these spots, in Urabunna land, there may be spirits of several different totems.[5] Among the Urabunna, as everywhere, totems are exogamous. None of these four conditions, nor all of them, can produce the Arunta totemic non-exogamy.

Finally (5) the Arunta and Kaitish, and they alone, believe not only that the spirits desiring reincarnation reside at certain definite spots, and not only that the spirits there are, in each case, all of one totem (which is essential), but also that these spirits are most closely associated with objects of stone, inscribed with archaic markings (churinga nanja), which the spirits have dropped in these places—the scenes where the ancestors died (Oknanikilla). These stone objects, and this belief in their connection with ancestral spirits, are found in the Arunta region alone, and are the determining cause, or inseparable accident at least, of the non-exogamy of Arunta totemism, as will be fully explained later.

Not one of these five conditions is reported by Mr. Howitt among the primitive south-eastern tribes, and the fifth is found only in Aruntadom. Yet Mr. Spencer regards as the earliest form of totemism extant that Arunta form, which requires four conditions, not found in the tribes of primitive organisation, and a fifth, which is peculiar to the Arunta "nation" alone.

That the Arunta tribe, whether shut off from all others or not (as a matter of fact it is not), should alone (while advanced in all respects, including marriage and ceremonials) have retained a belief which, though called primitive, is unknown among primitive tribes, seems a singularly paradoxical hypothesis. Meanwhile the cause of the Arunta peculiarity—non-exogamous totems—is recognised by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, who also declare that the cause is isolated. They say "it is the idea of spirit individuals associated with churinga" (manufactured objects of stone), "and resident in certain definite spots, that lies at the root of the present totemic system of the Arunta tribe."[6]

Again, they inform us that the churinga belief, and the existence of stone churinga, are things isolated. "In the Worgaia tribe, which inhabits the country to the north-east of the Kaitish" (neighbours of the Arunta), "we meet, so far as we have been able to discover, with the last traces of the churinga—that is, of the churinga with its meaning and significance, as known to us in the true central tribes, as associated with the spirits of Alcheringa ancestors" (mythical beings, supposed to be constantly reincarnated).[7] Thus, "the present totemic system of the Arunta tribe,"—in which, contrary to universal rule, persons of the same totem may inter-marry—reposes on a belief associated with certain manufactured articles of stone, and neither the belief nor the stone objects are discovered beyond a certain limited region. It is proper to add that the regretted Mr. David Carnegie found, at Family Wells, in the desert of Central Australia, two stone objects, one plain, the other rudely marked with concentric circles, which resemble churinga nanja. He mentions two others found and thrown away by Colonel Warburton. The meaning or use of these objects was not ascertained.[8]

We differ from Messrs. Spencer and Gillen when they think that this peculiar and isolated belief, held by four or five tribes of confessedly advanced social organisation and ceremonials (a belief only possible under advanced social organisation), is the pristine form of totemism, out of which all totemists, however primitive, have found their way except the Arunta "nation" alone. Messrs. Spencer and Gillen write: "... the only conclusion which it seems possible to arrive at is that in the more northern tribes" (which have no churinga nanja, no stone churinga), "the churinga represent the surviving relics of a time when the beliefs among those tribes were similar to those which now exist among the Arunta. It is more easy to imagine a change which shall lead from the present Arunta or Kaitish belief to that which exists among the Warramunga, than it is to imagine one which shall lead from the Warramunga to the Arunta."[9] Now among the Warramunga, as everywhere, the division of the totems between the two (exogamous) moieties is complete, "and, with very few exceptions indeed, the children follow the father."[10] (These exceptions are not explained.) Among the Kaitish the same totems occur among both exogamous moieties, so persons of the same totem can intermarry, but "it is a very rare thing for a man to marry a woman of the same totem as himself."[11]

The obvious conclusion is the reverse of that which our authors think "alone possible." The Kaitish have adopted the Arunta churinga nanja usage which introduces the same totem into both exogamous moieties, but, unlike the Arunta, they have not yet discarded the old universal rule, "No marriage within the totem." It is not absolutely forbidden, but it scarcely ever occurs. The Kaitish, as regards exogamy and religion, are a link between the primitive south-eastern tribes and the Arunta.

We go on to show in detail how Arunta totems alone ceased to be exogamous, and to demonstrate that the more northern tribes have never been, and never can have been, in the present Arunta condition. Among the Arunta, in the classes, none of them his own, into which alone a man may marry, there are plenty of women of his own totem. Thus, in marrying a woman of his totem, but not of his set of classes, a man does not break the law of Arunta exogamy. Now how does it happen that a totem may be in both sets of exogamous classes among the Arunta alone of mankind? Was this always the case from the beginning?

It is, naturally, our opinion that among the Arunta, as everywhere else, matters were originally, or not much later, so arranged that the same totem never appeared in both phratries, or, afterwards, when phratries were lost, in both opposed sets of two or four exogamous matrimonial classes. The only objection to this theory is that the Arunta themselves believe it, and mention the circumstance in their myths. These myths cannot be historical reminiscences of the "Dream-Time," which never existed. But even a myth may deviate into truth, especially as the Arunta must know that in other tribes the same totem never occurs in both phratries, and are clever enough to see that their method needs explanation as being an exception to general rule; and that, even now, "the great majority of any one totem belong to one moiety of the tribe." So they say that originally all Witchetty Grubs, for instance, were in the Bulthara-Panunga moiety (as most Grubs still are to this day), while all Emus were in the opposite exogamous moiety (Purula-Kumura). But, say Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, "owing to the system according to which totem names are" (now) "acquired, it is always possible for a man to be, say, a Purula or a Kumura, and yet a Witchetty; or, on the other hand, a Bulthara or a Panunga, and yet an Emu."[12] The present system of acquiring totem names has transferred the totems into both exogamous moieties, and so has made it possible to marry within the totem name.

This suggests that, in native opinion or conjecture, Arunta totems, like all others, were once exogamous; no totem ever occurred originally in both exogamous moieties. It also indicates that, in the opinion of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, they only ceased to be exogamous when the present method of acquiring totem names, an unique method, was introduced. Happily, to prove the historical worthlessness of Arunta legendary myth, the tribe has a contradictory legend. The same totem, according to this fable, occurred in both exogamous moieties, even in the mythic Dream-Time (Alcheringa); by this fable the natives explain (what needs explaining) how the same totem does occur in both exogamous moieties to-day, and so is not exogamous.[13]

This is nonsense, just as the other contradictory myth was conjecture. Messrs. Spencer and Gillen have themselves explained why the same totem may now occur in both moieties, and so be non-exogamous. The unique phenomenon is due to the actual and unique method of acquiring totem names.[14] Thus the modern method is not primitive. These passages are very instructive.

The Arunta have been so long in the relatively advanced state of local totemism that their myths do not look behind it. A group, whether stationary or migratory, in the myths of the Dream-Time (the Alcheringa) always consists of persons of the same totem, with occasional visitors of other totems. The myths, we repeat, reflect the present state of local totem groups back on the past.

The myths allege (here the isolated superstition comes in) that the mythical ancestors of the Alcheringa died, or "went into the ground" at certain now haunted spots, marked by rocks or trees, which may be called "mortuary local totem-centres"—in native speech, Oknanikilla[15] Trees or rocks arose to mark the spot where the ancestors, all of one totem in each case, went into the ground. These trees or rocks are called Nanja. Thereabouts the dying ancestors deposited possessions peculiar to Aruntadom, their stone amulets, or churinga nanja, with what are now read as totemic incised marks. Their spirits, all of one totem in each case, haunt the Nanja rock or tree, and are especially attached to these stone amulets,[16] called churinga nanja. The spirits discarnate await a chance of entering into women, and being reborn. When a child comes to the birth, the mother, whatever her own or her husband's totem may be, names the spot where she supposes that she conceived the child, and the child's Nanja tree or rock is that in the Oknanikilla, or mortuary local totem-centre nearest to the place where the child was conceived. Its male kin hunt for the churinga, or stone amulet, there deposited by the dying Alcheringa ancestor; if they find it, it becomes the child's churinga, for he is merely the ancestor spirit reborn. He (or she) "comes into his own"; his Nanja tree or rock, his churinga nanja, and his original totem, which may be, and often is, neither that of his father or mother.

Thus inheriting his own old Nanja tree and churinga, and totem, the child is not necessarily of his father's or mothers but is of his own old original totem, say Grub, or Hakea Flower, or Kangaroo, or Frog. His totem is thus not inherited, we repeat, as elsewhere, from either parent, but is derived, by the accident of his place of conception, from the local totem, from the totemic ghosts (all of one totem) haunting the particular mortuary totem centre, or Oknanikilla, where he was conceived. His totem may thus be in both of the exogamous moieties, and for that reason alone is not exogamous. To take an example. A woman, by totem Cat, has a husband by totem Iguana. She conceives a child, and believes that she conceived it in a certain district. The local totem of that district is the Grub, Grub ghosts haunt the region; the child, therefore, is a Grub. He inherits his exogamous class, say Bukhara, from his father, and he must marry a woman of Class Kumara. But she may also be a Grub, for her totem, like his, has been acquired (like his, not by inheritance, but) by the accident that her mother conceived her in a Grub district. Thus, and thus only, are totems not exogamous among the Arunta. They are not inherited from either parent.

It is probable that, after male descent came in, the Arunta and Kaitish at first inherited their totems from their fathers, as among all other tribes with male descent. This appears to be proved by the fact that they still do inherit, from their fathers, totemic rites, and the power of doing totemic mummeries for their fathers' totems, even when, by the accident of their places of conception, they do not inherit their fathers' totems. When they did inherit the paternal totem, they were, doubtless, totemically exogamous, like all other tribes with either male or female descent.

One simple argument upsets the claim of Arunta totems to be primitive. In no tribe with female descent can a district have its local totem, as among the Arunta. A district can only have a local totem if the majority of the living people, and of the haunting ghosts of the dead, are of one totem only. But this (setting aside the occasional results of an isolated Urabunna superstition) can only occur under male reckoning of descent, which confessedly is not primitive. In a region where reckoning in the female line exists a woman could not say, "I conceived my child in Grub district, the country of totem Grub"—for such a country there is not and cannot be. Consequently, among the Urabunna as everywhere with reckoning of descent in the female line, every child is of its mother's totem.

Let us examine other tribes who, like the Arunta, have the theory of reincarnation, but whose totems are, as elsewhere, exogamous, unlike those of the Arunta. The Urabunna have female descent, and their myth about the origin of totemic ancestors approximates to that of the Arunta, but, unlike the Arunta fable, does not produce, or account for, non-exogamy in totems. Things began, say the Urabunna, by the appearance of a few creatures half human, half bestial or vegetable. They had miraculous powers, and dropped spirits which tenanted lizards, snakes, and so on, all over the district. These spirits later became incarnated in human beings of the Lizard, Snake, or other totem, and are constantly being reincarnated. The two Urabunna phratries were originally a green and a brown snake: the Green Snake said to the Brown Snake, "I am Kirarawa, you are Matthurie"—the phratry names. It does not appear that these names now mean Green Snake and Brown Snake, though they may once have had these significations. The spirits left about by these snakes, like all the other such spirits (mai aurli) keep on being incarnated, and, when incarnated, the children bear the totem name of their mothers in each case. A Green Snake woman is entered by a spirit, which she bears as a Green Snake child. The accident of the locality in which the child was conceived does not affect his totem, so Urabunna totems remain in their own proper phratries, and therefore, by phratry law, are exogamous, as everywhere, except among the Arunta.[17]

This arrangement is merely the usual arrangement, with female descent A woman's child is of the woman's totem. Believing in reincarnation, the Urabunna merely adapt that belief to the facts. With female descent an Emu woman's child is Emu. If a tribe has male descent, an Emu father's child is Emu. With female descent, a spirit has entered an Emu woman and been born Emu: with male descent, a spirit has entered the wife of an Emu man, and, by inheritance from his father, is Emu. Yet Messrs. Spencer and Gillen think that the Arunta and Kaitish rule—demanding the non-primitive male descent, local groups, local ghosts all of one totem, and churinga stones of the mark of that totem (all of which are indispensable), "is probably the simplest and most primitive."[18]

Most primitive, by our author's own statement, the Arunta method cannot be, for, as they show, it demands male descent, local totemism, and the peculiar belief about manufactured stone churinga. But they think it "most simple," because the Urabunna have a complicated myth, which, however, in no way affects the result, namely, that each child takes its mother's totem. Each spirit, according to the myth, changes its phratry and sex, and, necessarily, its totem, at each reincarnation, but that does not affect the result. Each child, as in all tribes with female descent, is still of its mother's totem.[19] No churinga nanja cause an anomaly among the Urabunna, for the churinga nanja, and the belief about them, among the Urabunna do not exist.

The Urabunna myth, adapted to male descent, occurs in all the northern tribes, from the northern bounds of the Kaitish to the sea, which have no stone churinga nanja; and in all of them totems are exogamous, because they never occur in both phratries, being uninfluenced by the Arunta churinga belief. They cannot, for they are duly inherited from the father, and they are so inherited because the tribes have not the exceptional Churinga Nanja creed, attaching the spirit to the amulet of a local totem group, which fixes—by the accident of place of conception—the totem of each child.

The Arunta non-exogamous totems, in Australia, as we saw, are only found where stone churinga nanja are in use; these amulets being peculiarly the residence of the spirits of totemic ancestors.

The origin of that belief is obscure. It could not arise in the present condition of Arunta or Kaitish affairs, for, now, every stone churinga in the tribe has already its recognised legal owner, and, on the death of an owner, or the extinction of a local totem group, the churinga are not left lying about to be found on or in the earth, but pass by a definite rule of inheritance; and they are all carefully warded and frequently examined, in Ertnatu-lunga, or sacred storehouses.[20] Thus stone churinga nanja, to-day, are not left lying about on the surface, or buried in graves, like those which, on the birth of each Arunta child, are sought for, and sometimes found, at the local totem-centre, and near the Nanja tree or rock, where the child was conceived. There churinga nanja must have been buried, of old, if our authors correctly say that the mythical ancestors "went into the ground, each carrying his churinga with him."[21] Again we read, "Many of the churinga were placed in the ground, some natural object again marking the spot." The spot was always marked by some natural object, such as a tree or rock.[22]

Though our authors tell us that they know Arunta natives who, on the birth of a child, have sought for and found his churinga nanja near the Nanja rock or tree next to the place where he was conceived, they do not say that the churinga are found by digging.[23] If they are, or if the Oknanikilla really are ancient burying-places (about which we are told nothing), the association of the churinga nanja with the ghost of the man in whose grave it is buried would be easily explained. But the impression left is that the stone churinga nanja found after search are discovered on the surface, dropped there by the spirit when about to be reincarnated.[24]

Here a curious fact may be filed for reference. Stone amulets, fashioned and decorated by man, are not known to be in use south of the Arunta region. But a cousin of my own, Mr. William Lang, found a stone object not unlike one figured by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, on his station near Cooma, New South Wales. The decoration was of the rectilineal type prevalent in that region. Mr. Lang knew nothing of the Arunta churinga till I drew his attention to the subject. He then visited the Sydney Museum, and found several stone objects, "banana-shaped," exactly like the specimen (wooden?), one out of five known to Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, and published by them in their first work (p. 150). The New South Wales ornament, however, was always rectilineal. The articles appear to be obsolete among the tribes of New South Wales. It is said that they were erected of old round graves of the dead. Whites call them "grave stones." Careful articles on these decorated stone objects of New South Wales have been written by Mr. W. R. Harper and Mr. Graham Officer.[25] As a rule, they are not banana-shaped or crescentine, but are in the form of enormous stone cigars. They used to be placed, twelve or thirteen of them, on graves, and their weight, averaging about 3 lbs. to 4 lbs., makes them less portable than most of the churinga of the Arunta. It does not seem at all probable that Arunta stone churinga were ever erected round graves, but excavations at Oknanikilla, if they could be executed without a shock to Arunta sentiment, might throw some light on the subject.

In my opinion, the churinga found at Oknanikilla by the Arunta may have had no such original significance as is now attached to them. The belief may be a mere myth, explaining the sense of objects found and not understood—relics, as the myth itself avers, of an earlier race, the Alcheringa folk. The only information about those New South Wales decorated cigar-shaped and banana-shaped stone objects which could be got out of a local black was: "All same as bloody brand." He meant, conceivably, that the incised markings were totem marks, I think, and in that sense the marks on Arunta stone churinga are now interpreted.

It would not be surprising if the Arunta—supposing that they possessed the belief in "spirit trees," and the belief in reincarnation, and then found, near the Nanja trees or rocks, the stone amulets or "grave stones" of some earlier occupants of the region—evolved the myth that ancestral souls, connected with the spirit trees, abode especially in these decorated stones, common enough in American and European neolithic sites.

This is, of course, a mere conjecture. But Messrs. Spencer and Gillen agree with us when they say: "It is this idea of spirit individuals associated with churinga, and resident in certain definite spots, that lies at the root of the present totemic system of the Arunta tribes."[26]

Three facts are now apparent. The Arunta (i) must have reckoned in the male line for a very long time, otherwise their myths would not take local totem-centres for granted as a primeval fact, since such centres can only occur and exist under male reckoning of descent; in cases where the husbands do not go to the wives' region of abode. (2) The myth that totemic local ghosts are reincarnated cannot be older than local totem-centres, for it is their old local totem-centres that the totemic ghosts do haunt. The spots are strewn with their old totem-marked churinga. The myths make the wandering groups of fabled ancestors all of one totem, because, by male reckoning, they could be little else till the churinga superstition arose and scattered totems about at random in the population.

Again, (3) even local totemism, plus the belief in the reincarnation of primary ancestral spirits, did not produce the non-exogamy of totems, till it was reinforced by the unique Arunta belief in the stone churinga nanja.

The totemism of the Arunta, then, was originally like that of their neighbours, exogamous, till the stone churinga nanja became the centre of a myth which introduces the same totems into both exogamous moieties among the Arunta, where it has broken down the old exogamous totemic rule. Among the Kaitish, as we saw, the rule is still surviving in general practice.

We now proceed to demonstrate that the more northern tribes have never passed through the present Arunta state of belief and customary law.

Suppose that the Arunta to-day dropped their churinga nanja belief, and allowed the totem name to be inherited through the father, as the right to work the ceremonies of the totem still is inherited by sons who do not inherit the totem itself. What would follow? Why, totems among the Arunta would still be non-exogamous, for the existing churinga nanja belief has brought the same totems into both exogamous moieties, and there they would remain, after they came to be inherited in the male line. In the same way, if the northern tribes had once been in the Arunta state of belief, their totems would still be in both exogamous moieties, and would not regulate marriage. But this is not the case. These tribes, therefore, have never been in the present Arunta condition. Q.E.D.

The Arunta belief is, obviously, an elaboration of the belief in reincarnation, not held, as far as is known, by the Dieri, but held by the Urabunna, and by all tribes from the Urabunna northwards to the sea. Mr. Howitt does not mention the belief among the south-eastern tribes. But there is a kind of tendency towards it among the Euahlayi of north-west New South Wales, reported on by Mrs. Langloh Parker (MS.). This tribe reckons in the female line, has phratries, and uses the class names (four), but not the phratry names of the Kamilaroi. Each individual has a Minngah tree haunted by spirits unattached. Medicine men have Minngah rocks. These answer to the Arunta Nanja (Warramunga, Mungai) trees and rocks in mortuary local totem-centres. But the Minngah-tree spirits do not seek reincarnation. Only spirits of persons dying young, before initiation, are reincarnated. Fresh souls for new bodies are made by the Crow and the Moon. These spirits, when "made," hang in the boughs of the coolabah tree only, not round Minngah trees or rocks.

I think it possible, or even probable, that ideas like those of the Euahlayi exist among the southern Arunta and elsewhere. Messrs. Spencer and Gillen give a Kaitish myth of two men "who arose from churinga," and heard Atnatu (the Kaitish sky-dwelling being, the father of some men) making, in the sky, a noise with his churinga (the wooden bull roarer).[27] Now, I have seen the statement, on which I lay no stress, that in extreme south-west Aruntadom a sky-dwelling Emu-footed being lost two stone churinga. Out of one sprang a man, out of the other a woman. They had offspring, "but not by begetting."

Among the tribes with the reincarnation belief connubial relations are supposed only to "prepare the mother for the reception and birth also of an already formed spirit child."[28] This apparent ignorance of physical facts, not found among the south-eastern tribes, is a corollary from the reincarnation belief, or from the other belief that spirit children are "made" by some non-human being. (Cf. Chapter XI.)

To continue with the statement as to the southern Arunta, the sky-dwelling being "has laid germs of the little boys in the mistletoe branches, germs of little girls among the split stones ... such a germ of a child enters a woman by the hip." Now among the Euahlayi, when the spirit children made by the Crow and the Moon are weary of waiting to be reincarnated, they are changed into mistletoe branches.

I do not insist on the alleged sky-dwelling being of these Arunta, for Messrs. Spencer and Gillen (in their two books) have not found him, and Mr. Howitt thinks that his name arises from a misunderstanding. Kempe, a missionary of 1883, speaks of "Altjira, 'god,' who gives the children."[29] Altjira, "god," may be a mistake, based on the root of Alcheringa or Altjiringa, "dream." On the other hand, Mr. Gillen himself credits the Arunta with a belief in a sky-dwelling being, and with a creed incompatible with the faith in reincarnation, as, in tins Anunta myth, human souls are not reincarnated. This information we quote.


"The sky is said to be inhabited by three persons, a gigantic man with an immense foot shaped like that of an emu, a woman, and a child who never develops beyond childhood. The man is called Ulthaana, meaning 'spirit.' When a native dies his spirit is said to ascend to the home of the great Ulthaana, where it remains for a short time; the Ulthaana then throws it into the Saltwater (sea) [these natives have no personal knowledge of the sea], from whence it is rescued by two benevolent but lesser Ulthaana who perpetually reside on the seashore, apparently merely for the purpose of rescuing spirits who have been subject to the inhospitable treatment of the great Ulthaana of the heavens (alkirra). Henceforth the spirit of the dead man lives with the lesser Ulthaana."[30]

Is it possible that Mr. Gillen's "Great Ulthaana of the Heavens, alkirra," is Kempe's Altjira? Or can he be a native modification of Kempe's own theology? Probably not.

In any case the Arunta of Mr. Gillen who do not believe in reincarnation cannot possibly, it would seem, possess the Arunta form of totemism. It is only natural that varieties of myth and belief should exist, and it is asserted that there is a myth among the Arunta of the extreme south-west section about a sky-dwelling being, who, like the Crow and the Moon of Euahlayi belief, makes spirit children, and places them in the mistletoe boughs. The story that the first man and woman sprang from two of this being's lost churinga, again, is matched by the Kaitish story of two men who rose from churinga. The Arunta described by Mr. Gillen, they whose souls dwell with "the lesser Ulthaana," no more believe in reincarnation than do the south-eastern tribes. These variants in belief and myth usually occur among savages.

The Arunta add to the reincarnation myth, the peculiarity of mortuary local totem-centres, and of the attachment of the spirit to a stone churinga inscribed with the marks of that totem, and from these peculiar ideas—as much isolated as the peculiar ideas of the Urabunna or the Euahlayi—arises the non-exogamous character of Arunta totemism. No one, out of such varying freaks of belief, can be regarded as primitive, more than another, but the Arunta variant, for the reason repeatedly given, cannot possibly be primitive.

The Arunta totems are not only non-exogamous: their actual raison d'être, to-day, is to exist as the objects of magical co-operative societies, fostering the totem plants and animals as articles of tribal food supply. Mr. Spencer thinks this the primary purpose of totem societies, everywhere. Now we have not, as yet, been told why each society took to doing magic for this or that animal or other thing in nature. They cannot have been "charged with" this duty, except by some central authority. As there did not yet exist, by the hypothesis, so much as a tribe with phratries, what can this central authority have been? If it existed, on what principle did it select, out of the horde, groups to become magical societies? Were they groups of kin, or groups of associates by contiguity? On what principle could the choice of departments of nature to be controlled by each group, be determined by the central authority? Had the groups already distinguishing names—Emu, Eagle Hawk, Opossum, &c.—how did these names arise, and did these names determine the department of nature for which each group was allotted to do magic? Or did authority give to each group a magical department, and did the nature of that department determine the group-name, such as Frogs, Grubs, Hakea Trees?

Or was there no formal distribution, no sudden organisation, no central authority? Did a casual knot of men, or a firm of wizards, say, "Let us do magic for the Kangaroo, and get more Kangaroos to eat"? Was their success so great and enviable that other casual knots of men or firms of wizards followed their example? And, in this case, why do Arunta totemists not eat their totems freely? Is it because they think that to do so would frighten the totems, and make them recalcitrant to their magic? But that cannot be the case if their success, while they worked their magic on their own account, was great, enviable, and generally imitated. And, if it was not, why was it imitated? Next, how, among the magical societies, was exogamy introduced? Mr. Spencer writes: "Our knowledge of the natives leads us to the opinion that this really took place; that the exogamic groups were deliberately introduced so as to regulate marital regulations." This was, then, a Marriage Reform Act. However, Mr. Spencer hastens to add that he cannot conceive a motive for the Marriage Reform Act. "We do not mean that the regulations had anything whatever to do with the idea of incest, or of any harm accruing from the union of individuals who were regarded as too nearly related."[31]

We have shown that no such ideas could occur to the supposed promiscuous horde, who knew not that there is such a thing as procreation, but supposed that, like the stars in Caliban's philosophy, children "came otherwise." Yet the "exogamic system" does nothing but prohibit certain marriages, and "it is quite possible that the exogamic groups were deliberately introduced so as to regulate marital relations."[32]

Mr. Spencer's theory is, then, that there was a horde with magical totemic societies, how evolved we cannot guess. Across that came the arrangement of classes to regulate marriage, as it does, but the ancestors who possibly introduced it had, he says, no idea that there was any moral or material harm in unregulated marriages. Then why did they regulate them?

The hypothetical horde of the kind which we have described had no marriage relations, and had no possible reason for regulating intersexual relations.

It is true that reformatory movements in marriage law are actually being purposefully introduced, among tribes which, possessing already such laws, of unknown origin, to reform, have deduced from these laws themselves that there is a right and wrong in matters of sex. Certainly, too, much of savage marriage law is of ancient and purposeful institution. But the question is, not how moral laws, once developed, might be improved; but how a tabu law against sexual relations between near kin could even be so much as dreamed of by members of a communal horde, who bad do idea of kin, and could not possibly tell who was akin to whom. Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coûte! We must account for le premier pas.

Again, the Intichiuma, or co-operative totemic magic, of the Arunta, regarded by our authors as "primary," is nowhere reported of the tribes of the south and east. Mr. Howitt asserts its absence. The lack of record, say Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, "is no proof that these ceremonies did not exist" If they did, bow could they escape the knowledge of Mr. Howitt, an initiated man?[33] As a fact, when you leave the centre, and reach the north sea-coast, totemic magic dwindles, and nearly disappears. Among the coast tribes of the north, the Intichiuma magic is "very slightly developed." Its faint existence is "doubtless to be associated with the fact that they inhabit country where the food supply and general conditions of life are more favourable than in the central area of the continent which is the home of these ceremonies." But surely the regions of the south and east, where there is no Intichiuma, are also better in supply and general conditions than the centre. Why then should the apparent absence of Intichiuma in the south and east be due to want of observation and record, while the "very slight development" of Intichiuma on the north coast is otherwise explained, namely, by conditions—which also exist in the south!

Moreover, co-operative and totemic magic is most elaborately organised among the Sioux, Dakotah, Omaha, and other American tribes, where supplies are infinitely better than in any part of Australia,[34] and agriculture has there, as in Europe, a copious magic. Magic, as a well-known fact, is most and best organised in the most advanced non-scientific societies. In Australia it is most organised in the centre, and dwindles as you move either north, south, or east. This implies that, socially, the centre is in this respect most advanced and least primitive; while magic, partly totemic, is highly organised in the much more prosperous islands of the Torres Straits, and in America.

It is true that Collins (1798), a very early observer, saw east-coast natives performing ceremonies connected with Kangaroos, in one of which a Kangaroo hunt was imitated. Collins believed that this was imitative magic of a familiar kind, done to secure success in the chase. In Magic and Religion, p. 100, I express the same opinion. But Messrs. Spencer and Gillen write, as to the magic observed by Collins, "There can be little doubt but that these ceremonies, so closely similar in their nature to those now performed by the central natives, were totemic in their origin"—they may be regarded as "clear evidence of the existence of these totemic ceremonies ... in a tribe living right on the eastern coast."[35]

Really the evidence of Collins, on analysis, is found to describe (i.) a Dog dance; (ii.) a native carrying a Kangaroo effigy made of grass; (iii.) a Kangaroo hunt. Nothing proves the working of totemic ceremonies: the point is not established. Collins saw a hunt dance, not a ceremony whose "sole object was the purpose of increasing the number of the animal or plant after which the totem is called," and to do that is the aim of the Intichiuma.[36] The hunt dances seen by Collins were just those seen by Mr. Howitt at an initiation ceremony.[37] In the Emu Intichiuma of the Arunta the Emus are represented by men, but no Emu hunt is exhibited, and women are allowed to see the imitators of the fowls.[38] The ceremonies reported by Collins were done at an initiation of boys, which "the women of course were not allowed to see."[39]

Apparently we have not "clear evidence" that Collins saw Intichiuma, or totemic co-operative magic, in the south, and Mr. Howitt asserts and tries to explain its absence there.

It is, of course, perfectly natural that men, when once they come to believe in a mystic connection between certain human groups and certain animals, should do magic for these animals. But, in point of fact, we do not find the practice in the more primitively organised tribes outside the Arunta sphere of influence, and we do find the practice most, and most highly organised, in tribes of advanced type, in America and the Torres Isles, quite irrespective of the natural abundance of supplies, which is supposed to account for the very slight development of Intichiuma on the north coast of Australia.

I cannot agree with Mr. Hartland in supposing that the barren nature of the Arunta country forced the Arunta to do magic for their totems. The country is not so bare as to prevent large assemblies, busy with many ceremonials, from holding together during four consecutive months, while Mr. Howitt's south-eastern tribes, during a ceremonial meeting which lasted only for a week, needed the white man's tea, mutton, and bread. If fertile land makes agricultural magic superfluous, why does Europe abound in agricultural magic? Among the Arunta, the totem names, deserting kinships, clung to local groups, and with the names went the belief that the inhabitants of the locality or the bearers of the names had a special rapport with the name-giving animals or plants. This rapport was utilised in magic for the behoof of these objects, and for the good of the tribe, which is singularly solidaire.

We trust we have shown that the primal origin of totemic institutions cannot be found in the very peculiar and strangely modified totemism of the Arunta, and of their congeners. Their marriage law, to repeat our case briefly, now reposes solely on the familiar and confessedly late system of exogamous alternating classes, as among other northern tribes. The only difference is that the totems are now (and nowhere else is this the case), in both of the exogamous moieties, denoted by the classes, and they are in both moieties because, owing to the isolated belief in reincarnation of local ghosts, attached to stone amulets, they are acquired by accident, not, as elsewhere, by inheritance. A man who does not inherit his father's totem because of the accident of his conception in a local centre of another totem, does, none the less, inherit his totemic ceremonies and rites. Totemism is thus en pleine décadence among the Arunta, from whom, consequently, nothing can be learned as to the origin of totemism.


The Arunta legends of the Alcheringa usually describe the various wandering groups, all, in each case, of one totem, as living exclusively for long periods on their own totems, plants, or animals. This cannot be historically true; many plants, and such animals as grubs, are in season for but a brief time. On the other hand, we meet a legend of women of the Quail totem who lived exclusively, not on quails, but on grass seeds.[40] Again, in only one case are men of the Achilpa, or Wild Cat totem, said to have eaten anything, and what they ate was the Hakea flower. Later they became Plum men, Ulpmerka, but are not said to have eaten plums. In a note (Note I, p. 219) Messrs. Spencer and Gillen say that "Wild Cat men are represented constantly as feeding on plums." They are never said to have eaten their own totem, the Wild Cat, which is forbidden to all Arunta, though old men may eat a little of it Reasons, not totemic, are given for the avoidance.[41] We are not told anything about the Intichiuma or magical rites for the increase of the Wild Cat, which is not eaten. Are they performed by men of the Wild Cat totem? The old men of the totem might eat very sparingly of the Wild Cat, at their Intichiuma, but certainly the members of other totems who were present would not eat at all. The use of a Wild Cat Intichiuma is not obvious: there is no desire to propagate the animal as an article of food.

[1] J. A. I., xii. p. 497. Cf. Native Tribes of South-East Australia, PP. 173, 174.

[2] I neglected to observe this important passage when reviewing Mr. Howitt's ideas in Social Origins.

[3] J. A. I., N.S., i. pp. 284, 285.

[4] Folk Lore, December 1904, p. 473. For Mr. Spencer's assertion that the Aninta social type is advanced, see Central Tribes; cf. p. 211. For the probable advanced and relatively recent character of their initiatory ceremonies, see Central Tribes, p. 217; Northern Tribes, p. 329.

[5] Northern Tribes, p. 147.

[6] Central Tribes, p. 123.

[7] Northern Tribes, p. 274.

[8] J. A. I., August 1898, pp. 20, 21.

[9] Northern Tribes, p. 281.

[10] Ibid., p. 175.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Central Tribes, pp. 125, 126.

[13] Northern Tribes, pp. 151, 152.

[14] Central Tribes, pp. 125, 126.

[15] Spencer and Gillen, Central Tribes, p. 123.

[16] Ibid., p. 150. Figures of the objects are given.

[17] Northern Tribes, pp. 145-148.

[18] Ibid., p. 174.

[19] Northern Tribes, pp. 146, 149.

[20] Spencer and Gillen, Central Tribes, pp. 153-155.

[21] Spencer and Gillen, Central Tribes, p. 123.

[22] Op. cit., p. 124.

[23] Op. cit., p. 132.

[24] The churinga here spoken of are a kind of stone amulets, of very various shapes, marked with such archaic patterns of cups, concentric circles or half circles, and other devices as are found on rock surfaces in our islands, in India, and generally all over the world, as in New Caledonia. The same marks occur on small plaques of slate or schist, in Portuguese neolithic sites, in palæolithic sites, and in Scotland, where Dr. Munro regards them as not of genuine antiquity. See Antiguedades Prehistoricas de Andalucia, Gongora y Martinez, Madrid, 1868, p. 109; Antiguedades Monumentaes do Algarve, vol. ii. pp. 429-462, Estacio da Veiga, Lisbon, 1887; Portugalia, i. Part IV., Severo and Brenha, 1903; Magic and Religion (A. L.), pp. 246-256, 1901. For a palæolithic bone object, exactly like an Arunta churinga, see Hoernes, Der Diluviale Mensch in Europa, p. 138, 1903. It does not follow, of course, that these objects in Europe were ever connected with a belief like that of the Arunta. The things were probably talismans of one sort or another.

[25] Proceedings, Linnaean Society of New South Wales, 1898, vol. xxiii. part 3, and vol. xxvi. p. 238.

[26] Op. cit., p. 123.

[27] Northern Tribes, pp. 272, 373.

[28] Central Tribes, p. 265.

[29] Geographical Society of Halle, Proceedings, 1883, p. 53.

[30] Notes on Some Manners and Customs of the Aborigines of the McDonnell Ranges, belonging to the Arunta Tribe. Gillen, Horn Expedition, iv. p. 183.

[31] J. A. I., N.S., p. 278.

[32] Ibid., i. pp. 284, 285. Dr. Roth has conjectured that phratries were introduced "by a process of natural selection" to regulate the food supply. But how did they come to regulate marriage? (Aborigines of North-West Central Queensland, pp. 69, 70.)

[33] See Northern Tribes, pp. xiii, xiv, 173.

[34] Dorsey, Omaha Sociology. Siouan Cults. Bureau of Ethnology, 1881-1882, pp. 238, 239; 1889-1890, p. 537. Frazer, Totemism, p. 24. For Torres Islands, J. A. I., N.S., i. pp. 5-17.

[35] Northern Tribes, pp. 224, 225.

[36] Spencer and Gillen, p. 169.

[37] Natives of South-East Australia, p. 545.

[38] Spencer and Gillen, pp. 182, 183.

[39] Northern Tribes, p. 225.

[40] Native Tribes of Central Australia, p. 417.

[41] Ibid., p. 168.



Theories of Dr. Durkheim—Was man originally promiscuous?—Difficulty of ascertaining Dr. Durkheim's opinion—Apparent contradictions—Origin of totemism—A horde, which did not prohibit incest, splits into two "primary clans"—These are hostile—Each has an animal god, and its members are of the blood of the god, consubstantial with him—Therefore may not intermarry within his blood—Hence exogamy—These gods, or totems, "cannot be changed at will"—Questions as to how these beliefs arise—Why does the united horde choose different gods?—Why only two such gods?—Uncertainty as to whether Dr. Durkheim believes in the incestuous horde—Theory of "collective marriage," a "last resource"—The "primary clans" said to have "no territorial basis"—Later it is assumed that they do have territorial bases—Which they overpopulate—Colonies sent forth—These take new totems—Proof that an exogamous "clan" has no territorial basis—And cannot send out "clan" colonies—Colonies can only be tribal—No proof that a "clan" ever does change its totem—Dr. Durkheim's defence of one of his apparent inconsistencies—Reply to his defence—Mr. Frazer's theory (1887) that a totemic "clan" throws off other clans of new totems, and becomes a phratry—Objections to this theory—The facts are opposed to it—Examples—Recapitulation—Eight objections to Dr. Durkheim's theory.

Dr. Durkheim, Professor of Sociology in the University of Bordeaux, has displayed much acuteness in his destructive analysis of the Arunta claims to possess a primitive form of totemism.[1] He has also given the fullest and most original explanation of the reason why, granting that groups of early men had each a special regard for a particular animal or plant, whose name they bore, they tabooed marriage within that name.[2]

With these and other merits the system of Dr. Durkheim, as unfolded at intervals in his periodical (L'Année Sociologique, 1898-1904), has, I shall try to show, certain drawbacks, at least as we possess it at present, for it has not yet appeared in the form of a book. As to the point which in this discussion we have taken first, throughout, it is not easy to be certain about the Professor's exact opinion. What was the condition of human society before totemic exogamy was evolved? Dr. Durkheim writes, "Many facts tend to prove that, at the beginning of societies of men, incest was not forbidden. Nothing authorises us to suppose that incest was prohibited before each horde (peuplade) divided itself into two primitive 'clans,' at least" (namely, what we now call "phratries"), "for the first form of the prohibition known to us, exogamy, everywhere appears as correlative to this organisation, and certainly this is not primitive. Society must have formed a compact and undivided mass before bisecting itself into two distinct groups, and some of Morgan's tables of nomenclature" (of relationships) "confirm this hypothesis."[3]

So far this is the ordinary theory. An undivided promiscuous horde, for reasons of moral reformation, or any other reason, splits itself into two exogamous "clans," or germs of the phratries. These, when they cease to be hostile (as they were on Dr. Durkheim's but not on Mr. Howitt's theory), peacefully intermarry, and become the phratries in a local tribe.

Why did the supposed compact horde thus divide itself into two distinct hostile "clans," each, on Dr. Durkheim's theory, claiming descent from a different animal, the totem of each "clan"? Why were two bodies in the same horde claiming two different animal ancestors? Why were the two divisions in a common horde mutually hostile? That they were originally hostile appears when our author says that, at a given stage of advance, "the different totemic groups were no longer strangers or enemies, one of the other."[4] Marriages, at this early period, must necessarily have been made by warlike capture, for the two groups were hostile, were exogamous, and, being hostile, would not barter brides peacefully. Women, therefore, we take it, could only be obtained for each group by acts of war. "Ages passed before the exchange of women became peaceful and regular. What vendettas, what bloodshed, what laborious negotiations were for long the result of this régime!"[5]

But why were they exogamous, these two primary groups formed by the bisection of a previously undivided incestuous horde? Why could not each of the two groups marry its own women? There must have been a time when they were not exogamous, and could marry their own women, for they were only exogamous, in Dr. Durkheim's theory, because they were totemic, and they did not begin by being totemic. The totem, says Dr. Durkheim, in explanation of exogamy, is a "god" who is in each member of his group while they are in him. He is blood of their blood and soul of their soul.[6] This being so—as it is wrong to shed the blood of our kindred—a man of totem Emu, say, may not marry a maid of, say, totem Emu; he must seek a bride from the only other group apparently at this stage accessible, that is a maid of, say, totem Kangaroo. Presently all Kangaroos of a generation must have been Emus by female descent; all Emus, Kangaroos; for the names were inherited through women. The clans were thus inextricably blended, and neither had a separate territory, a point to be remembered.

Manifestly the strange superstitious metaphysics of totemism must have occupied a long time in evolution. The sacredness of the totem is the result of a primitive "religiosity," Dr. Durkheim says, which existed before gods or other mythological personages had been developed. There is supposed by early man (according to our author) to be a kind of universal element of power, dreadful and divine, which attaches to some things more than to others, to some men more than to others, and to all women in their relations with men.[7] This mystic something (rather like the Mana of the Maories, and the Wakan of many North American tribes) is believed by each group (if I correctly understand Dr. Durkheim) to concentrate itself in their name-giving animal, their totem.[8] All tabu, all blood tabu, has in the totem animal its centre and shrine, in the opinion of each group. Human kinship, of Emu man to Emu woman, is, if I understand rightly, a corollary from their common kinship with the Emu bird; or rather the sacredness of their kinship, not to be violated by marriage, is thus derived; an opinion which I share.

How all this came to be so; why each of two "clans" in one horde chose, or acquired, a given animal as the centre of the mysterious sacred atmosphere, Dr. Durkheim has not, so far, told us. Yet surely there must have been a reason for selecting two special animals, one for each of the two "clans," as the tabu, the totem, the god. Moreover, as such a strange belief cannot be an innate idea of the human mind, and as this belief, with its corollaries, is, in Dr. Durkheim's theory, the sole origin of exogamy, there must have been a time when men, not having the belief, were not exogamous, and when their sexual relations were wholly unregulated. They only came under regulation after two "clans" of people, in a horde, took to revering two different sacred animals, according to Dr. Durkheim.

The totem, he says, is not only the god, but the ancestor of the "clan," and this ancestor, says Dr. Durkheim, is not a species—animal or vegetable—but is such or such an individual Emu or Kangaroo. This individual Emu or Kangaroo, however, is not alive, he is a creature of fancy; he is a "mythical being, whence came forth at once all the human members of the 'clan,' and the plants or animals of the totem species. Within him exist, potentially, the animal species and the human 'clan' of the same name."[9]

"Thus," Dr. Durkheim goes on, "the totemic being is immanent in the clan, he is incarnate in each individual member of the clan, and dwells in their blood. He is himself that blood. But, while he is an ancestor, he is also a god, he is the object of a veritable cult; he is the centre of the clan's religion.... Therefore there is a god in each individual member of the clan (for the entire god is in each), and, as he lives in the blood, the blood is divine. When the blood flows, the god is shed" (le dieu se répand).

All this, of course, was the belief (if ever it was the belief) when totemism was in its early bloom and vigour, for to-day a black will shoot his totem, but not sitting; and will eat it if he can get nothing else, and Mr. Howitt mentions cases in which he will eat his totem if another man bags it.[10] The Euahlayi, with female kin, eat their totems, after a ceremony in which the tabu is removed.[11] Totemism is thus decadent to-day. But "a totem is not a thing which men think they can dispose of at their will, at least so long as totemic beliefs are still in vigour.... A totem, in short, is not a mere name, but before all and above all, he is a religious principle, which is one and consubstantial with the person in whom it has its dwelling-place; it makes part of his personality. One can no more change one's totem than one can change one's soul...."[12] He is speaking of Arunta society on the eve of a change from female to male reckoning of descent.

So far, the theory of Dr. Durkheim is that in a compact communal horde, where incest was not prohibited, one "clan" or division took to adoring, say, the Eagle Hawk, another set the Crow; to claiming descent each from their bird; to regarding his blood as tabu; to seizing wives only from the other "clan"; and, finally, to making peaceful intermarriages, each, exclusively, only from the other set, Eagle Hawk from Crow, Crow from Eagle Hawk. We do not learn why half the horde adored one, and the other half another animal. If the disruption of the horde produced two such "clans," "at least," there may have been other "clans," sets equally primal, as Lizard, Ant, Wallaby, Grub. About these we hear nothing more in the theory; the two "primary clans" alone are here spoken of as original, and are obviously the result of a mere conjecture, to explain the two phratries of animal name, familiar in our experience.

No attempt is made to explain either why members of the same horde chose separate animal gods; or why—unless because of consequent religious differences—the two "clans," previously united, were now hostile; or why there were at first only two such religious hostile "clans"; or, if there were more, what became of the others.

Meanwhile, we are not even sure that Dr. Durkheim does believe in a primary incestuous horde, when "Society must have formed a compact undivided mass ... before splitting into two distinct groups, and some of Morgan's tables of nomenclature corroborate this hypothesis."[13] It is true that Dr. Durkheim makes this assertion. But, in the same volume (i. p. 332), Dr. Durkheim tells us that Mr. Morgan's theory of obligatory promiscuity (a theory based, as we saw in Chapter II., on the terms of relationship) "seems to us to be definitely refuted." Again, Mr. Morgan, like Mr. Howitt and Mr. Spencer, regarded the savage terms for relationships as one proof of "group marriage," or "collective marriage," including unions of the nearest of kin. (Compare our Chapter III.) But Dr. Durkheim writes, "The hypothesis of collective marriage has never been more than a last resource, intended to enable us to envisage these strange customs: but it is impossible to overlook all the difficulties which it raises ... this improbable conception."[14]

Is it possible that, after many times reading the learned Professor's work, I misunderstand him? With profound regret I gather that he does not believe in the theory of "obligatory promiscuity" in an undivided horde, which I have supposed to be the basis of his system; a horde "in which there is nothing to show that incest was forbidden." That incest, in Mr. Morgan's theory, was "obligatory," I cannot suppose, because, if nobody knew who was akin to whom, nothing could compel a man to marry his own sister or daughter. I am obliged to fear that I do not understand what is meant. For Dr. Durkheim made society begin in a united solid peuplade, in which "there is no reason to suppose that incest was forbidden," and as proof he cited some of Mr. Morgan's tables of relationships. He then gave his theory of how exogamy was introduced into the "compact undivided mass." He next appears to reject this "mass," and Morgan's argument for its existence. Is there an inconsistency, or do I merely fail to understand Dr. Durkheim?

Let us, however, take Dr. Durkheim's theory of a horde with "permissive" incest, split, for some reason, into two distinct hostile "clans" worshipping each its own "god," an animal; each occupying a different territory; reckoning by female kin; exogamous, and intermarrying. Such communities, exogamous, intermarrying, and with female descent, Dr. Durkheim uniformly styles "primary clans," or "elementary totemic groups."[15] It is obvious that they constitute, when once thoroughly amalgamated by exogamy and peaceful intermarriage, a local tribe, with a definite joint territory, and without clan territory. At every hearth, through the whole tribal domain, both clans are present; the male mates are, say, Eagle Hawks, the women and children are Crows, or vice versa. Neither "clan" as such "has any longer a territorial basis." "The clan," says Dr. Durkheim, "has no territorial basis." "The clan is an amorphous group, a floating mass, with no very defined individuality; its contours, especially, have no material marks on the soil."[16] This is as true as it is obvious. The clans, when once thoroughly intermixed, and with members of each clan present, as father, mother, and children, by every hearth, can, as clans, have no local limits, no territorial boundaries, and Dr. Durkheim maintains this fact Indeed, he distinguishes the clan from the tribe as being non-territorial.[17]

Yet though he thus asserts what every one must see to be true, his whole theory of the origin of the totem kins ("secondary clans") within the phratries, and his theory (as we shall show later) of the matrimonial classes, rests on the contradictory of his averment. He then takes the line that the exogamous clans with female descent do, or did, possess definite separate territorial bases, which seems contrary to the passage where he says that they do not![18] He has reversed his position.

We first gave Dr. Durkheim's statement as to how the totem kins (which he calls "secondary clans") came to exist within the phratries.

"When a clan increases beyond a certain measure, its population cannot exist within the same space: it therefore throws off colonies, which, as they no longer occupy the same habitat with, nor share the interests of the original group from which they emerged, end by taking a totem which is all their own: thenceforth they constitute new clans."[19] Again, "the phratry is a primary clan, which, as it develops, has been led to segment itself into a certain number of secondary clans, which retain their sentiment of community and of solidarity."[20]

All this is (as far as I can see), by Dr. Durkheim's own previous statement, impossible. A totemic clan, exogamous, with female descent, cannot, as a clan, overflow its limits of "space," for, as a clan, he tells us, it "has no territorial basis," no material assigned frontier, marked on the soil.[21] "One cannot say at what precise point of space it begins, or where it ends." The members of one "clan" are indissolubly blended with the members of the other "clan," in the local tribe. This point, always overlooked by the partisans of a theory that the various totem kins are segments of "a primary clan," can be made plain. By the hypothesis there are two "clans" before us, of which Eagle Hawk (male) always marries Crow (female), their children being Crows, and Crow (male) always marries Eagle Hawk (female), the children being Eagle Hawks. The tribal territory is over-populated (the clan has no territory). A tribal decree is therefore passed, that clan Eagle Hawk must "segment itself," and go to new lands. This decree means that a portion of clan Eagle Hawk must emigrate. Let, then, Eagle Hawk men, women, and children, to the amount of half of the clan, be selected to emigrate. They go forth to seek new abodes. In doing so the Eagle Hawk men leave their Crow wives at home; the Eagle Hawk women leave their Crow children, and Crow husbands; the Eagle Hawk children leave their Crow fathers. Not a man or woman in the segmented portion of clan Eagle Hawk can now have a wife or a husband, for they can only marry Crows. They all die out! Such is the result of segmenting clan Eagle Hawk.

Yet the thing can be managed in no other way, for, if the emigrant Eagle Hawk men take with them their Crow wives and children, they cannot marry (unless men marry their daughters, Crows) when they become widowers, and unless Crow brothers marry Crow sisters, which is forbidden. Moreover, this plan necessitates a segmentation, not of clan Eagle Hawk, but of the tribe, which is composed of both Crows and Eagle Hawks. These conspicuous facts demolish the whole theory of the segmentation of a "clan" into a new clan which takes a new totem, though it would need two.

Moreover, why should a tribal colony of two blended clans take, as would be absolutely necessary, two new totem names at all? We know not one example of change of totem name in Australia.[22] Their old totems were their gods, their flesh, their blood, their vital energies, by Dr. Durkheim's own definition. "The members of a clan literally deem themselves of one flesh, of one blood, and the blood is that of the mythic being" (the totem) "from which they are all descended."[23] How and why then, should emigrants from "clans," say Eagle Hawk and Crow, change their gods, their blood, their flesh, their souls? To imagine that totems or even the descent of totems can be changed, by legislation, from the female to the male line, is, says Dr. Durkheim, "to forget that the totem is not a thing which men think they can dispose of at will,... at least so long as totemic beliefs are in vigour."[24]

Our author goes on: "A totem, in fact, is not a mere name, it is, above all and before all, a religious principle, one with the individual in whom it dwells; and part of his personality. One can no more change his totem, than he can change his soul...."

In that case, how did the supposed colonies thrown off by a segmented clan, manage to change their totems, as they did, on Dr. Durkheim's theory?[25] They lived in the early vigour of totemic beliefs, and during that blooming age of totemism, says Dr. Durkheim, "the totem is not a thing which men think they can dispose of at will," and yet, on his theory, they did dispose of it, they took new totems.[26]

The supposed process seems to me doubly impossible by Dr. Durkheim's premises. A "clan," exogamous, with female kin, cannot overflow its territory, for it has confessedly, as a "clan," no delimitations of territory. Consequently a clan cannot throw off a colony (only a tribe can do that); therefore, as there can be no "clan" colony, the tribal colony cannot change its one totem, for it has two. Moreover, Dr. Durkheim says that there can be no such cavalier treatment of the totem: "Tant du moins que les croyances totémiques sont encore en vigueur." Yet he also says that the totems were thus cavalierly treated when totemic beliefs were in vigour.

Dr. Durkheim, however, might reply: "A tribe with two 'clans' can throw off colonies, each colony necessarily consisting of members of both clans, and these can change their two totems." That might pass, if he had not said that, while totemic beliefs are in vigour, men cannot dispose of the totem, "a part of their personalities," at their will.

One argument, based on certain facts, has been advanced to show that the totem kins in the phratries are really the result of the segmentation of a "clan" into new clans with new totems. This argument, however, breaks down on a careful examination of the facts on which it is based, though I did not see that when I wrote Social Origins, p. 59, Note 1. The chief circumstance appealed to is this. The Mohegans in America have three phratries: (1) WOLF, with totem kins Wolf, Bear, Dog, Opossum; (2) TURKEY, with totem kins Turkey, Crane, Chicken; (3) TURTLE, with totem kins Little Turtle, Mud Turtle, Great Turtle, Yellow Eel. "Here we are almost forced to conclude," wrote Mr. Frazer in 1887, "that the Turtle phratry was originally a Turtle clan which subdivided into a number of clans, each of which took the name of a particular kind of turtle, while the Yellow Eel clan may have been a later subdivision."[27]

Mr. Frazer has apparently abandoned this position, but it seems to have escaped his observation, and the observation of Dr. Durkheim, who follows him here, that in several cases given by himself the various species of totem animals are not grouped (as they ought to be on the hypothesis of subdivision) under the headship of one totem of their own kind—like the three sorts of Turtle in the Mohegan Turtle phratry—but quite the reverse. They are found in the opposite phratry, under an animal not of their species.

Thus Mr. Dawson, cited by Mr. Frazer, gives for a Western Victoria tribe, now I believe extinct:—

Phratry A.
Totem kins:
Long-billed Cockatoo.

Phratry B.
Totem kins:
Banksian Cockatoo.
Boa Snake.

The two cockatoos are, we see, in opposite phratries, not in the same, as they should be by Mr. Frazer's theory.[28]

This is a curious case, and is explained by a myth. Mr. Dawson, the recorder of the case (1881) was a scrupulous inquirer, and remarks that it is of the utmost importance to be able to converse with the natives in their own language. His daughter, who made the inquiries, was intimately acquainted with the dialects of the tribes in the Port Fairy district. The natives collaborated "with the most scrupulous honesty." The tribes had an otiose great Being, Pirmeheeal, or Mam Yungraak, called also Peep Ghnatnaen, that is, "Father Ours." He is a gigantic kindly man, living above the clouds. Thunder is his voice. "He is seldom mentioned, but always with respect."[29] This Being, however, did not institute exogamy. The mortal ancestor of the race "was by descent a Kuurokeetch, or Long-billed Cockatoo." His wife was a female Kappatch (Kappaheear), or Banksian Cockatoo. These two birds now head opposite phratries. Their children could not intermarry, so they brought in "strange flesh"—alien wives—whence, by female descent, came from abroad the other totem kins, Pelican, Boa Snake, and Quail. Pelican appears to be in Long-billed Cockatoo phratry; Boa Snake in Banksian Cockatoo phratry. At least these pairs may not intermarry. Quail, as if both a phratry and a totem kin by itself, may intermarry with any of the other four, while only three kins are open to each of the other four.[30] In this instance a Cockatoo phratry has not subdivided into Cockatoo totem kins, but two species of Cockatoos head opposite phratries, and are also totem kins in their own phratries.

In the same way, in the now extinct Mount Gambier tribe, the phratries are Kumi and Kroki. Black Cockatoo (Wila) is in Kroki; in Kumi is Black Crestless Cockatoo (Karaal).[31] By Mr. Frazer's theory, which he probably no longer holds, a Cockatoo primary totem kin would throw off other kins, named after various other species of Cockatoo, and become a Cockatoo phratry, with several Cockatoo totem kins. The reverse is the fact: the two Cockatoos are in opposite phratries.

Again, among the Ta-ta-thi tribe, two species of Eagle Hawk occur as totems. One is in Eagle Hawk phratry (Mukwara), the other is in Crow phratry (Kilpara). This could not have occurred through Eagle Hawk "clan" splitting into other clans, named after other species of Eagle Hawk.[32]

In the Kamilaroi phratries two species of Kangaroos occur as totem kins, but the two Kangaroo totem kins are in opposite phratries.[33]

If Mr. Frazer's old view were correct, both species of Kangaroo would be in the same phratry, like the various kinds of Turtle in the Mohegan Turtle phratry. Again, in the Wakelbura tribe, in Queensland, there are Large Bee and Small or Black Bee in opposite phratries.[34]

On Mr. Frazer's old theory, we saw, a phratry is a totem kin which split into more kins, having for totems the various species of the original totem animal. These, as the two sorts of Bees, Cockatoos, Kangaroos, and so on, would on this theory always be in the same phratry, like the various kinds of Mohegan Turtles. But Mr. Frazer himself has collected and published evidence to prove that this is far from being usually the case; the reverse is often the case. Thus the argument derived from the Mohegan instance of the Turtle phratry is invalidated by the opposite and more numerous facts. The case of the Mohegan Turtle phratry, with various species of Turtles for totem kins within it, is again countered in America, by the case of the Wyandot Indians. They have four phratries. If these have names, the names are not given. But the first phratry contains Striped Turtle, Bear, and Deer. The second contains Highland Turtle, Black Turtle, and Smooth Large Turtle. If this phratry was formed by the splitting of Highland Turtle into Black and Smooth Turtles, why is Striped Turtle in the opposite phratry?[35] The Wyandots, in Ohio, were village dwellers, with female reckoning of lineage and exogamy. If they married out of the tribe, the alien was adopted into a totem kin of the other tribe, apparently changing his totem, though this is not distinctly stated.[36]

Thus Dr. Durkheim's theory of the segmentation of a primary totem "clan" into other "clans" of other totems is not aided by the facts of the Mohegan case, which are unusual. We more frequently find that animals of different species of the same genus are in opposite phratries than in the same phratry. Again, a totem kin (with female descent) cannot, we repeat, overpopulate its territory, for, as Dr. Durkheim says, an exogamous clan with female descent has no territorial basis. Nor can it segment itself without also segmenting its linked totem kin or kins, which merely means segmenting the local tribe. If that were done, there is no reason why the members of the two old "clans" in the new colony should change their totems. Moreover, in Dr. Durkheim's theory that cannot be done "while totemic beliefs are in vigour."

To recapitulate our objections to Dr. Durkheim's theory, we say (i.) that it represents human society as in a perpetual state of segmentation and resegmentation, like the Scottish Kirk in the many secessions of bodies which again split up into new seceding bodies. First, we have a peuplade, or horde, apparently (though I am not quite sure of the Doctor's meaning) permitted to be promiscuous in matters of sex. (ii.) That horde, for no obvious reason, splits into at least two "clans"—we never hear in this affair of more than the two. These two new segments select each a certain animal as the focus of a mysterious impersonal power. On what grounds the selection was made, and why, if they wanted an animal "god," the whole horde could not have fixed on the same animal, we are not informed. The animals were their "ancestors"—half the horde believed in one ancestor, half in another. The two halves of the one horde now became hostile to each other, whether because of their divergence of opinion about ancestry or for some other reason, (iii.) Their ideas about their animal god made it impossible for members of the same half-horde to intermarry, (iv.) Being hostile, they had to take wives from each other by acts of war. (v.) Each half-horde was now an exogamous totem kin, a "primary clan," reckoning descent on the female side. As thus constituted, "no clan has a territorial basis": it is an amorphous group, a floating mass. As such, no clan can overflow its territorial limits, for it has none.

(vi.) But here a fresh process of segmentation occurs. The clan does overflow its territory, though it has none, and, going into new lands, takes a new totem, though this has been declared impossible; "the totem is not a thing which men think they can dispose of at will, at least while totemic beliefs are in vigour." Thus the old "clans" have overflowed their territorial limits, though "clans" have none, and segments have wandered away and changed their totems, though, in the vigour of totemic ideas, men do not think that they can dispose of their totems at will, (vii.) In changing their totems, they, of course, change their blood, but, strange to say, they still recognise their relationship to persons not of their blood, men of totems not theirs, namely, the two primary clans from which they seceded. Therefore they cannot marry with members of their old primary clans, though these are of other totems, therefore, ex hypothesi, of different blood from themselves, (viii.) The primary clans, as relations all round grow pacific, become the phratries of a tribe, and the various colonies which had split off from a primary clan become totem kins in phratries. But such colonies of a "clan" with exogamy and female descent are impossible.

If these arguments are held to prove the inadequacy of Dr. Durkheim's hypothesis, we may bring forward our own.[37]

[1] L'Année Sociologique v. pp. 82-141.

[2] Ibid., i. pp. 35-57.

[3] L'Année Sociologique, i. pp. 62, 63.

[4] Dr. Durkheim here introduces a theory of Arunta totemic magic. As he justly says, the co-operative principle—each group in a tribe doing magic for the good of all the other groups—cannot be primitive. The object of the magic, he thinks, was to maintain in good condition the totems, which are the gods, of the groups, and, indeed, "the condition of their existence." Later, ideas altered, ancestral souls, reincarnated, were the source of life, but the totemic magic survived with a new purpose, as Magical Co-operative Stores. But why have the more primitive tribes no totem magic? (L'Année Sociologique, v. pp. 117, 118, 119.)

[5] L'Année Sociologique, i. p. 64.

[6] Ibid., pp. 51, 52.

[7] L'Année Sociologique, i. pp. 38-57.

[8] Ibid., i. pp. 38-53; v. pp. 87, 88. "Le caractère sacré est d'abord diffus dans les choses avant de se concrétiser sous la forme des personalités déterminés."

[9] L'Année Sociologique, i. p. 51, and Note I.

[10] For other rules see Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, pp. 320-328.

[11] MS. of Mrs. Langloh Parker.

[12] L'Année Sociologique, v. pp. 110, 111.

[13] L'Année Sociologique, i. p. 63.

[14]L'Année Sociologique, i. p. 318.

[15] L'Année Sociologique, v. pp. 91, 92.

[16] Ibid., i. p. 20.

[17] Ibid., i. p. 6.

[18] Ibid., i. p. 6.

[19] L'Année Sociologique, i. p. 6.

[20] Ibid., v. p. 91.

[21] Ibid., i. p. 20. The thing would only be possible if the two "clans" were not yet exogamous and intermarrying; but then they would not be "clans," by the definition!

[22] In Natives of South-East Australia, pp. 215, 216, we hear on the evidence of "Wonghi informants" that members of the totems are allowed to change totems, "to meet marriage difficulties," and because in different ports of the tribal territory different animals, which act as totems, are scarce. The tribe, haring matrimonial classes, is not pristine, and, if the report be accurate, totemic ideas, from Dr. Durkheim's point of view, cannot be "still in their vigour."

[23] L'Année Sociologique, i. p. 51.

[24] Ibid., V. p. 110.

[25] Ibid., i. p. 6.

[26] In Folk Lore, March 1904, I criticised what I regard as an inconsistency in this part of Dr. Durkheim's theory. I here cite his reply textually, from Folk Lore, June 1904, pp. 215-216.


"Dans le Folk Lore de Mars, M. Lang, sous prétexte de se défendre contre mes critiques, m'attaque directement. Je suis donc obligé, à mon grand regret, de demander l'hospitalité du Folk Lore pour les quelques observations qui suivent. Afin d'abréger le débat, je n'examinerai pas si M. Lang s'est justifié ou non de mes critiques, et me borne à répondre à celle qu'il m'a adressée.

"M. Lang me reproche d'avoir renié ma propre théorie sur la nature du totem. J'aurais (L'Année Sociologique, i. pp. 6 et 52) dit qu'un clan peut changer de totem et, dans la même périodique (v. pp. 110, 111), j'aurais établi qu'un tel changement est impossible. En réalité, la seconde opinion qui m'est ainsi attribuée n'est pas la mienne et je ne l'ai pas exprimée.

"En effet, je n'ai pas dit que groupes et individus ne pouvaient jamais changer de totem, mail, ce qui est tout autre chose, que le principe de filiation totémique, la manière dont le totem est réputé se transmettre des parents aux enfants ne pouvait être modifiée par mesure legislative, par simple convention. Je cite les expressions que j'ai employées et que tait M. Lang: "Tant que, d'après les croyances regnantes, le totem de l'enfant était regardé comme une emanation du totem de la mère, il n'y avait pas de mesure legislative qui pût faire qu'il en fut autrement." Et plus bas ("Les croyances totémiques) ne permettaient pas que le mode de transmission du totem pût être modifié d'un coup, par un acte de la volonté collective." Il est clair, en effet, que si l'on croit fermement que l'esprit totémique de l'enfant est déterminé par la fait de la conception, il n'y a pas de legislation qui puisse décider qu'à partir d'un certain moment il aura lieu de telle façon et non de telle autre. Mais mon assertion ne porte que sur ce cas particulier. Et des changements de totems restent possibles dans d'autres conditions comme celles dont il est question dans le Tome I. de L'Année Sociologique. J'ajoute que même ces changements n'ont jamais lieu, à mon sens, par mesure legislative. J'ai, il est vrai, comparé un changement de totem à un changement d'âme. Mais ces changements d'âmes n'ont rien d'impossible (pour l'homme primitif) dans les conditions déterminées. Seulement, ils ne sauraient avoir lieu par décret; or, c'est tout ce que signifiaient les quatre ou cinq mots incriminés par M. Lang. Leur sens est très clairement déterminé par tout le contexte comme je viens de le montrer. En tout cas, après les explications qui précèdent, appuyées sur des textes, il ne saurait y avoir de doute sur ma pensée, et je considère par suite le débat comme clos. E. DURKHEIM."

It distresses me that I am unable to understand Dr. Durkheim's defence. He does say (L'An. Soc. i. p. 6) that the colonies of "clans" too populous "to exist within their space" "end by taking a totem which is all their own, and thenceforth constitute new clans." He also does say that "the totem is not a thing which men think they can dispose of at their will,... at least so long as totemic beliefs are in vigour" (L'An. Soc. v. p. 110). But his hypothetical colonies did "dispose of" their old totems "at their will," and took new totems "all their own," and that while "totemic beliefs were in their vigour." I was saying nothing about le principe de filiation totémique, nor was Dr. Durkheim when he spoke of clan colonies changing their totems. I print Dr. Durkheim's defence as others, more acute than myself, may find it satisfactory.]

[27] Totemism, p. 62, 1887.

[28] Totemism, p. 65, citing Dawson, Australian Aborigines, p. 26 et seq.

[29] Dawson, Australian Aborigines, p. 49.

[30] Ibid., pp. 26, 27.

[31] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 168. Totemism, p. 85.

[32] J. A. I., xiv. p. 349. Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 100. I do not know certainly whether Mr. Howitt now translates Mukwara and Kilpara as Eagle Hawk and Crow.

[33] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 104.

[34] Totemism, p. 85. Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 112.

[35] Powell, Report of Bureau of Ethnology, 1879-80, p. 60.

[36] Op. cit., p. 68.

[37] I have excised a criticism of Dr. Durkheim's theory of the modus by which "primary clans" segmented into secondary clans (L'Année Sociologique, vi. pp. 7-34), because, since a clan, exogamous and with female reckoning of descent, cannot conceivably segment itself, as we have proved, my other arguments are as superfluous as they are numerous.



Mr. Darwin's theory of man's early social condition—Either men lived in male communities, each with his own female mates, or man was solitary, living alone with his female mates and children—His adolescent sons he drove away—The latter view accepted—It involves practical exogamy—Misunderstood by M. Salomon Reinach—Same results would follow as soon as totems were evolved—Totemism begins in assumption, by groups of men, of the names of natural objects—Mr. Howitt states this opinion—Savage belief in magical rapport between men and things of the same name—Mr. Frazer and Professor Rhys died for this fact—Theory of Dr. Pikler—Totemism arises in the need of names to be represented in pictographs—But the pictograph is later than the name—Examples of magic of names—Men led to believe in a connection of blood kin between themselves and objects of the same names—These objects regarded with reverence—Hence totemic exogamy merely one aspect of the general totem name—Group names were sobriquets of local groups, given by members of other local groups—Proof that such names may be accepted and gloried in—Cases of tribal names given from without and accepted—Mr. Hill-Tout on influence of names—His objection to our theory answered—Mr. Howitt's objections answered—American and Celtic cases of derisive nicknames accepted—Two Australian totem names certainly sobriquets—Religious aspect of totemism—Results from a divine decree—Other myths—Recapitulation.

The problem has been to account for the world-wide development of kinships, usually named after animals, plants, and other objects, and for the rule that the members of these kins may never marry within the kinship as limited by the name, Crow, Wolf, or whatever it may be. Why, again, are these kinships regimented, in each tribe, into two "phratries," exogamous, which also frequently bear animal names? No system hitherto proposed seems satisfactory, for the reasons given in the preceding critical chapters.

In trying to construct a more satisfactory system than those which have been criticised, we must commence, like others, with an hypothesis as to what kind of social animal man was when he began his career. Now we really are not quite reduced to conjecture, for Mr. Howitt's knowledge of savage life, in such a country as Australia, proves that the economic conditions, the search for supplies, and the blunt inefficiency of the earliest weapons, instruments, and hunting methods must have forced men to live in small separate groups. The members, again, of each group, being animated by "individual likes and dislikes" (including love, hate, jealousy, maternal affection, and the associations of kindness between a male and those whom he provided for and protected), must soon have evolved some discrimination of persons, and certain practical restraints on amatory intercourse. In groups necessarily very small, these germinal elements of later morality could be evolved, as they could not be evolved in the gregarious communal horde of theory.

Even when man's ancestors were hardly men, Mr. Darwin thus states his opinion as to their social condition.

He says, "We may conclude, judging from what we know of the jealousy of all Male Quadrupeds,... that promiscuous intercourse in a state of Nature is extremely improbable. Therefore, looking far back in the stream of Time, and judging from the social habits of man as he now exists, the most probable view is (a) that he aboriginally lived in small communities, each [man] with a single wife, or, if powerful, with several, whom he jealously guarded from all other men. Or (b) he may not have been a social animal, and yet have lived with several wives, like the Gorilla—for all the natives agree that bat one adult male is found in a band. When the young male grows up, a contest takes place for the mastery, and the strongest, by killing or driving out the others, establishes himself as head of the community.

"Younger males, being thus expelled and wandering about, would, when at last successful in finding a partner, prevent too close interbreeding within the limits of the same family."[1]

There is no communal horde in either of Mr. Darwin's conjectures, and the males of these "families" were all exogamous in practice, all compelled to mate out of the group of consanguinity, except in the case of the sire, or male head, who, of course, could mate with his own daughters.

Were I forced to conjecture, I should adopt Mr. Darwin's second hypothesis (b) because, given man so jealous, and in a brutal state so very low as that postulated, he could not hope "jealously to guard his women from all other men," if he lived in a community with other men.

There would be fights to the death (granting Mr. Darwin's hypothesis of male jealousy, man being an animal who makes love at all seasons),[2] and the little community would break up. No respect would be paid to the Seventh Commandment, and Mr. Darwin's first conjectured community would end in his second—given the jealousy and brutality and animal passions of early man, as postulated by him.

On Mr. Darwin's second conjecture our system could be based. Small "family" groups, governed by the will of the sire or master, whose harem contains all the young females in the group, would be necessarily exogamous in practice—for the younger male members. The sire would drive out all his adult sons as they came to puberty, and such as survived and found mates would establish, when they could, similar communities.

With efflux of time and development of intellect the rule, now conscious, would become, "No marriage within this group of contiguity;" the group of the hearth-mates. Therefore, the various "family groups" would not be self-sufficing in the matter of wives, and the males would have to seize wives by force or stealth from other similar and hostile groups. Exogamy, in fact, so far as the rule was obeyed, would exist, with raiding for wives. (This is the view of Mr. Atkinson, in his Primal Law.)[3]

If, on the other hand, Mr. Darwin's second hypothesis as to the primal state of man's brutal ancestors be rejected, economic and emotional conditions, as stated by Mr. Howitt (ch. iv., supra), would still keep on constantly breaking up, in everyday life, each supposed communal horde of men into small individualistic groups, in which the jealousy of the sire or sires might establish practical exogamy, by preventing the young males from finding mates within the group. This would especially be the case if the savage superstitions about sexual separation and sexual taboo already existed, a point on which we can have no certainty.[4] Young males would thus be obliged to win mates, probably by violence, from other hostile camps. But, whether this were so or not, things would inevitably come to this point later, as soon as the totem belief was established, with the totemic taboo of exogamy," No marriage within the totem name and blood."

The establishment of totemic belief and practice cannot have been sudden. Men cannot have, all in a moment, conceived that each group possessed a protective and sacred animal or other object of one blood with themselves. Not in a moment could they have drawn, on Dr. Durkheim's lines, the inference that none must marry within the sacred totem blood. Before any such faith and rule could be evolved, there must have been dim beginnings of the belief (so surprising to us) that each human group had some intimate connection with this, that, or the other natural species, plants, or animals. We must first seek for a cause of this belief in the connection of human groups with animals, the idea of which connection must necessarily be prior to the various customs and rules founded on the idea. Mr. Baldwin Spencer remarks, "What gave rise in the first instance to the association of particular men with particular plants and animals it does not seem possible to say." Mr. Howitt asks, "How was it that men assumed the names of objects which, in fact, must have been the commencement of totemism?"[5] The answer may be very simple. It ought to be an answer which takes for granted no superstition as already active; magic, for instance, need not have yet been developed.

In criticising the theory of Mr. Baldwin Spencer, we have tried to show that human groups would not work magic each for a separate animal, unless they already believed in a connection of a mystic or peculiarly intimate kind between themselves and their animal. Whether late or early in evolution, the Arunta totem magic can only rest on the belief in a specially close and mystical rapport between the totem animal or plant, and the human beings of the same name. How could the belief in that rapport arise?

Manifestly, if each group woke to the consciousness that it bore the name of a plant or animal, and did not know how it came to bear that name, no more was needed to establish, in the savage mind, the belief in an essential and valuable connection between the human group Emu, and the Emu species of birds, and so on. As Mr. Howitt says, totemism begins in the bearing of the name of an object by a human group.

It is difficult to understand how a fact so obvious as this—that the community of name, if it existed, and if its origin were unknown, would come to be taken by the groups as implying a mystic connection between all who bore it, men or beasts—can have escaped the notice of any one who is acquainted with the nature of savage thinking, and with its survivals into civilised ritual and magic. Mr. Frazer has devoted forty-two pages of his Golden Bough[6] to the record of examples of this belief about names, in various forms. He quotes Professor Rhys to the effect that probably "the whole Aryan family believed at one time, not only that the name was a part of the man, but that it was that part of him which is termed the soul, the breath of life, or whatever you may choose to define it as being." So says Mr. Rhys in an essay on Welsh Fairies.[7] This opinion rests on philological analysis of the Aryan words for "name," and is certainly not understated.[8] But, if the name is the soul of its bearer, and if the totem also is his soul, then the name and the soul and the totem of a man are all one! There we have the rapport between man and totemic animal for which we are seeking.

Whether "name" in any language indicates "soul" or not, the savage belief in the intimate and wonder-working connection of names and things is a well-ascertained fact. Now as things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, animals and sets of men having the same name are, in savage opinion, mystically connected with each other. That is now the universal savage belief, though it need not have existed when names were first applied to distinguish things, and men, and sets of men. Examples of the belief will presently be given.

This essential importance, as regards the totemic problem, of the names, has not escaped Professor Julius Pikler.[9] Men, says Dr. Pikler, needed for each other, collectively, "ein bleibender schriftlich fixierbarer Name von Gemeinschaften und individuen." They wanted permanent names of human communities and of the members of these communities, names which could be expressed in pictographs, as in the pictures of the Red Indian totem, reversed on grave-posts; or erect, on pillars outside of the quarters of the totem kin in Red Indian villages; or in tattooing, and so forth.

This is practically the theory of Mr. Max Müller.[10] Mr. Max Müller wrote, "A totem is (i.) a clan mark, then (ii.) a clan name, then (iii.) the name of the ancestor of the clan, and lastly (iv.) the name of something worshipped by the clan," This anticipated Dr. Pikler's theory.[11]

It is manifest, of course, that the name necessarily comes into use before, not as Mr. Max Müller thought, and as Dr. Pikler seems to think, after its pictorial representation, "the clan mark." A kin must have accepted the name of "the Cranes," before it used the Crane as its mark on a pillar in a village (villages being late institutions), or on grave-posts, or in tattoo marks. A man setting up an inn determines to call it "The Green Boar," "The White Hart," or "The Lochinvar Arms," before he has any of these animals, or the scutcheon of the Gordons of Lochinvar, painted on the signboard. He does not give his inn the name because it has the signboard; it has the signboard because it has the name. In the same way, a community must have had a name, say Eagle Hawk or Crow, before a savage could sketch, or express by gesture, a Crow or Eagle Hawk, and expect the public to understand that he meant to indicate, whether by pictograph or gesture language, a member of that Eagle Hawk or Crow named community. Totemism certainly is not, as Dr. Pikler argues, "die Folge der Schriftart, der Schrifttechnik jenes Menschen."[12]

The names came before the pictographs, not the pictographs before the names, necessarily; but the animal or vegetable names had this advantage, among others, that they could be expressed in terms of pictograph, or of gesture language. You cannot express in art, without writing, a tribal name, such at least as are the tribal names of the men who say Wonghi or Kamil when they mean "No," or of other tribes when they mean "What?"

Dr. Pikler says that "the germ of totemism is the naming," and here we agree with him, but we cannot follow him when he adds that "the naming is a consequence of the primitive schriftteknik," a result of the representation in the pictograph. A man knows himself and is known by others to be, by group name, a Crane, or a Rain-cloud, or a Bear, before he makes his mark with the pictograph of the bird's footprint, as , or of the Rain-cloud, as or of the Bear's-foot, as [13].

So far we must differ, then, from Dr. Pikler; naming is indeed the original germ of totemism, but the names came before the pictographs which represent the animals denoted by the names: it could not possibly be otherwise. But when once the name of the community, Eagle Hawk, Crow, Bear, Crane, Rain-cloud, or what not, is recognised and accepted, then, as Dr. Pikler writes, "even the Greeks,[14] in ages of philosophic thought relatively advanced, conceived that there was a material connection between things and their names," and, in the same way, savages, bearing an animal group-name, believed that there was an important connection, in fact, between the men and the name-giving animal, "and so conceived the idea of kinship with or descent from" the name-giving animal.[15]

Totemism, as Dr. Pikler says, "has its original germ, not in religion, but in the practical everyday needs of men," the necessity for discriminating, by names, between group and group. "Totems, probably, in origin, had nothing really religious about them," I had written.[16]

Thus, given a set of local groups[17] known by the names of Eagle Hawk, Crow, Wolf, Raven, or what not, the idea that these groups were intimately connected with the name-giving animals in each case was, in the long run, sure to occur to the savage thinker. On that assumed mystical connection, implied in the name, and suggested by the name, is laid the foundation of all early totemic practice. For the magical properties of the connection between the name and its bearer the reader has only to refer to Mr. Frazer's assortment of examples, already cited. We here give all that are needed for our purpose.

In Australia, each individual Arunta has a secret name, Aritna Churinga, "never uttered except on the most solemn occasions," "never to be spoken in the hearing of women, or of men, or of another group." To speak the secret name in these circumstances would be as impious "as the most flagrant case of sacrilege amongst white men."[18]

These ideas about the mystic quality of names are so familiar to all students, that I did not deem it necessary to dwell on them in Social Origins. But we should never take knowledge for granted, or rather, for every student does know the facts, we should never take it for granted that the knowledge will be applied. The facts prove, I repeat that, to the early mind names, and the things known by names, are in a mystic and transcendental connection of rapport. Other Australian examples of the secrecy of a man's name, and of the power of magically injuring him by knowledge of his name, are given by Mr. Howitt, Brough Smyth, Lumholtz, Bulmer, Dawson, and others. It would appear that this superstition as to names is later than the first giving of animal names to totem groups, and that totem names were not given to groups by the groups themselves (at least, were not given after the superstition about names came in), for to blazon their own group names abroad would be to give any enemy the power of injuring the group by his knowledge of its name. Groups, had they possessed the name-belief, would have carefully concealed their group names, if they could. There are a few American cases in which kins talk of their totems by periphrases, but every one knows the real names.

He who knew a group's name might make a magical use of his knowledge to injure the group. But the group or kin-names being already known to all concerned (having probably been given from without), when the full totemic belief arose it was far too late for groups to conceal the totem names, as an individual can and does keep his own private essential name secret. The totem animal of every group was known to all groups within a given radius. "It is a serious offence," writes Mr. Howitt, "for a man to kill the totem of another person,"[19] that is, with injurious intentions towards the person.

Mr. Frazer at one time thought that the totem was perhaps originally the soul-box, or life-receptacle, of the totemist, and said: "How close must be the concealment, how impenetrable the reserve in which he hides the inner keep and citadel of his being." I could but reply, as Mr. Hill-Tout also replies, that every savage knew the secret, knew what beast was a man's totem. I added that I knew no cases of a custom of injuring a man by killing his totem, "to his intention," but that I was "haunted by the impression that I had met examples."[20] Mr. Howitt, we see, mentions this kind of misdeed as punishable by native law. But it was too late, we repeat, to hide the totem names. Men now can only punish offenders who make a cruel magical use of their knowledge of an enemy's totem.

An individual, however, we must repeat, can and does keep his intimate essential personal name as dark as the secret name of the city of Rome was kept. "An individual," says Mr. Howitt, "has of course his own proper individual name, which, however, is often in abeyance, because of the disinclination to use it, or even to make it generally known, lest it might come into the knowledge and possession of some enemy, who thus having it might thereby 'sing' its owner—in other words, use it as an incantation."[21]

Thus, in Australia, the belief that names imply a mystic rapport between themselves and the persons who bear them is proved to be familiar, and it is acted upon by each individual who conceals his secret name.

This being so, when the members of human groups found themselves, as groups, all in possession of animal group-names, and had forgotten how they got the names (all known groups having long been named), it was quite inevitable that men, always speculative, should ask themselves, "What is the nature of this connection between us and the animals whose names we bear? It must be a connection of the closest and most important kind." This conclusion, I repeat, was inevitable, given the savage way of thinking about names. Will any anthropologist deny this assertion?

Probably the mere idea of a mystic connection between themselves and their name-giving animals set the groups upon certain superstitious acts in regard to these animals. But being men, and as such speculative, and expressing the results of their speculations in myths, they would not rest till they had evolved a myth as to the precise nature of the connection between themselves and their name-giving animals, the connection indicated by the name.

Now, men who had arrived at this point could not be so inconceivably unobservant as not to be aware of the blood connection between mother and children, indicated in the obvious facts of birth. A group may not have understood the facts of reproduction and procreation (as the Arunta are said not to understand them),[22] but the facts of blood connection, and of the relation of the blood to the life, could escape no human beings.[23] As savages undeniably do not draw the line between beasts and other things on one side, and men on the other, as we do, it was natural for them to suppose that the animal bearing the group name, and therefore solidaire with the group, was united with it, as the members of the group themselves were visibly united, namely, by the blood bond. The animal in myth is thus men's ancestor, or brother, or primal ancestral form. This belief would promote kindness to and regard for the animal.

Next, as soon as the animal-named groups evolved the universally diffused beliefs about the wakan or mana, or mystically sacred quality of the blood as the life, they would also develop the various totem tabus, such as not to kill the totem animal, not to shed its blood, and the idea that, by virtue of this tabu, a man must not marry a maid who was of one blood with him in the totem. Even without any blood tabu, the tabu on women of the same totem might arise. "An Oraon clan, whose totem is the Kujzar-tree, will not sit in its shade." So strong is the intertotemic avoidance.[24] The belief grew to the pitch that a man must not "use" anything of his totem (χρῆσθαι γυναίκι), and thus totemic exogamy, with the sanction of the sacred totem, was established.[25]

Unessential to my system is the question, how the groups got animal names, as long as they got them and did not remember how they got them, and as long as the names, according to their way of thinking, indicated an essential and mystic rapport between each group and its name-giving animal. No more than these three things—a group animal-name of unknown origin; belief in a transcendental connection between all bearers, human and bestial, of the same name; and belief in the blood superstitions—was needed to give rise to all the totemic creeds and practices, including exogamy.

Now, we can prove that the origin of the totem names of savage groups is unknown to the savages, because they have invented many various myths to account for the origin of the names. If they knew, they would not have invented such myths. That, by their way of thinking, the name denotes a transcendental connection, which must be exploited, between themselves and their name-giving animals we have proved.

In Social Origins I ventured a guess as to how the group names first arose, namely, in sobriquets given by group to group.[26] I showed that in France, England, the Orkneys, and I may now add Guernsey, and I believe Crete, villagers are known by animal names or sobriquets, as in France—Cows, Lizards, Pigeons, Frogs, Dogs; in Orkney—Starlings, Oysters, Crabs, Seals, Auks, Cod, and so forth. I also gave the names of ancient Hebrew villages, recorded in the Book of Judges, such as Lions, Jackals, Hornets, Stags, Gazelles, Wild Asses, Foxes, Hyænas, Cows, Lizards, Scorpions, and so forth. I also proved that in rural England, and in the Sioux tribe of Red Indians, rapidly ceasing to be totemic, the group sobriquets were usually "Eaters of" this or that animal, or (where totemism survived among the Sioux) "not Eaters of" this or that.[27] I thus established the prevalence in human nature, among peasants and barbarians, of giving animal group-sobriquets. "In Cornwall," writes an informant (Miss Alleyne), "it seems as if the inhabitants do not care to talk about these things for some reason or another," and "the names are believed to be very ancient." When once attention is drawn to this curious subject, probably more examples will be discovered.

I thus demonstrated (and I know no earlier statement of the fact) the existence in the European class least modified by education of the tendency to give such animal group-sobriquets. The same principle even now makes personal names derived from animals most common among individuals in savage countries, the animal name usually standing, not alone, but qualified, as Wolf the Unwashed, in the Saga; Sitting Bull, and so on. As we cannot find a race just becoming totemic, we cannot, of course, prove that their group animal-names were given thus from without, but the process is undeniably a vera causa, and does operate as we show.

As to this suggestion about the sources of the animal names borne by the groups, Dr. Durkheim remarks that it is "conjectural."[28] Emphatically it is, like the Doctor's own theories, nor can any theory on this matter be other than guess-work. But we do not escape from the difficulty by merely saying that the groups "adopted" animal names for themselves; for that also is a mere conjecture. Perhaps they did, but why? Is it not clear that, given a number of adjacent groups, each one group has far more need of names for its neighbours than of a name for itself? "We" are "we"; all the rest of mankind are "wild blacks," "barbarians," "outsiders." But there are a score of sets of outsiders, and "we," "The Men," need names for each and every one of them. "We" are "The Men," but the nineteen other groups are also "The Men"—in their own opinion. To us they are something else ("they" are not "we"), and we are something else to them; we are not they; we all need differentiation, and we and they, by giving names to outsiders, differentiate each other. The names arose from a primitive necessity felt in everyday life.

That such sobriquets, given from without, may come to be accepted, and even gloried in, has been doubted, but we see the fact demonstrated in such modern cases as "the sect called Christians" (so called from without), and in Les Gueux, Huguenots, Whigs, Tories, Cavaliers, Cameronians ("that nickname," cries Patrick Walker (1720), "why do they not call them Cargillites, if they will give them a nickname?")[29] I later prove that two ancient and famous Highland clans have, from time immemorial, borne clan names which are derisive nicknames. Several examples of party or local nicknames, given, accepted, and rejoiced in, have been sent to me from North Carolina.

Another example, much to the point, may be offered. The "nations," that is, aggregates of friendly tribes, in Australia, let us say the Kamilaroi, are usually known by names derived from their word for "No," such as Kamil (Kamilaroi), Wira (Wirajuri), Wonghi (Wonghi tribe), Kabi (Kabi tribe). Can any one suppose that these names were given from within? Clearly they were given from without and accepted from within. One of the Wonghi or of the Wiraidjuri or Kamilaroi tribe is "proud of the title." Messrs. Spencer and Gillen write, "It is possible that the names of the tribes were originally applied to them by outsiders, and were subsequently adopted by the members of the tribes themselves, but the evidence is scanty and inconclusive."[30] There can hardly be any evidence but what we know of human nature. Do the French call themselves Oui Oui? Not much I but the natives of New Caledonia call them Oui Oui.[31]

Moreover, to return to totem names, savage groups would have no reason for resenting, as derisive, animal names given from without. Considering the universal savage belief in the mystic wisdom and wakan, or power, of animals, there was no kind of objection among savages to being known by animal group-names. I repeat that the names were rather honour-giving than derisive. This has not been understood by my critics. They have said that among European villages, and among the Sioux of to-day, group nicknames are recognised, but not gloried in or even accepted meekly. My answer is obvious. Our people have not the savage ideas about animals.

Here it may be proper to reply to this objection as urged by Mr. Hill-Tout. That scholar might seem, in one passage of his essay on "Totemism: Its Origin and Import," to agree fully with these ideas of mine. He says, "To adopt or receive the name of an animal or plant, or other object, was, in the mind of the savage, to be endowed with the essence or spirit of that object, to be under its protection, to become one with it in a very special and mysterious sense." That is exactly my own opinion. The very early groups received animal names, I suggest, and when they had forgotten how they received them, believed themselves, as Mr. Hill-Tout says they naturally would do, to be "under the protection" of their name-giving animals, "and one with them in a very special and mysterious sense." Mr. Hill-Tout proceeds to give many examples of the process from America.[32]

It might appear, then, that Mr. Hill-Tout accepts my theory, namely, that group names, of forgotten origin, are the germs of totemism. But he rejects it, partly, no doubt, because he owns a different theory. His reasons for objecting, however, as offered, are that, while I prove that modern villages give each other collective animal names, I do not prove that the villagers—styled Grubs, Mice, Geese, Crows, and so on—accept and rejoice in these names, as totemists rejoice in being Grubs, Mice, Crows, and so forth. But I never said that the modern villagers delighted in being called Mice or Cuckoos! They very much resent such appellations. The group names of modern villagers were cited merely to prove that the habit of giving such collective names survives in Folk Lore, not to prove that modern villagers accept them gladly. The reason why they resent them is that our country folk are not savages, and have not the beliefs about the mystic force of names and the respect for animals which Mr. Hill-Tout justly ascribes to savages.

A native of Dingley Dell may call all natives of Muggleton "Potato-grubs," and the Muggleton people, from time immemorial, may have called the Dingley Dell folk "Rooks." But, not being savages, they do not think—as Mr. Hill-Tout's savages do—that "to receive the name of an animal is to be under its protection, to become one with it in a very special and mysterious sense," and they do not, like savages, think nobly of grubs and rooks. The distinction is obvious, except to critics. Mr. Hill-Tout thus accepts my premises as regards savages and their ideas about names, but rejects my conclusion, because modern villagers do not reason like savages! As to villagers, my evidence was only meant to show the wide diffusion, from ancient Israel to the Orkneys, of the habit of giving animal names to village groups. For evidence of the effect which that habit would have on savages, I have now cited Mr. Hill-Tout himself. He has merely misunderstood a very plain argument,[33] which he advanced as representing his own opinion (pp. 64-66). But then Mr. Hill-Tout has a counter theory.

Is my argument intelligible? A modern villager resents the bawling out of "Mouse" as he passes, Mouse being the collective nickname of his village, because he does not think nobly of Mice. The savage does think nobly of all animals, and so has no reason for resenting, but rather for glorying in, his totem name, whether Mouse or Lion. These facts were plainly asserted in Social Origins, p. 169, to no avail.

Mr. Howitt, in his turn, does not approve of my idea, thus stated by him, that "the plant and animal names would be impressed upon each group from without, and some of them would stick, would be stereotyped, and each group would come to answer to its nickname." He replies—

"To me, judging of the possible feelings of the ancestors of the Australians by their descendants of the present time, it seems most improbable that any such nicknames would have been adopted and have given rise to totemism, nor do I know of a single instance in which such names have been adopted."[34] Mr. Howitt, of course, could not possibly find kinships now adopting animal and other such names given from without, because all kinships where totemism exists have got such names already, and with the names a sacred body of customs. But does he suppose that the many local tribes calling themselves by their word for "No" (as Kabi, Kamil, Wonghi, and so on), originally gave these names to themselves, saying, "We are the people who, when we mean 'No,' say 'Wonghi'"? That seems to me hardly credible! Much more probably tribes who used Kamil or Kabi for "No" gave the name of Wonghi to a tribe who used Wonghi in place of their Kamil or Kabi. In that case the tribes, as tribes, have adopted names given from without.

Again, I consider that the feelings of that noble savage, the Red Indian, are at least as sensitive to insult as those of Mr. Howitt's blacks. Now it so happens that the Blackfoot Indians of North America, who apparently have passed out of totemism, have "gentes, a gens being a body of consanguineal kinsmen in the male line," writes Mr. G. B. Grinnell.[35] These clans, no longer totemic, needed names, and some of their names, at least, are most insulting nicknames. Thus we have Naked Dogs, Skunks, They Don't Laugh, Buffalo Dung, All Crazy Dogs, Fat Roasters, and—Liars! No men ever gave such names to their own community. In a diagram of the arrangement of these clans in camp, made about 1850, we find the gentes of the Pi-kun'-I under such pretty titles as we have given.[36]

To return from America to Australia, the Narrinyeri tribe, like the Sioux and Blackfeet, have reckoning of descent in the male line, and, like the Sioux, have local settlements (called "clans" by Mr. Howitt), and these local settlements have names. Does Mr. Howitt think it likely that one such "clan" called itself "Where shall we go?" and another called itself "Gone over there"?[37] These look to me like names given by other groups. Tribes, local groups ("clans"), and totem kins having names already, I cannot expect to show Mr. Howitt the names of such sets of people in the act of being given from without and accepted. But, as regards individuals, they "often have what may be called a nickname, arising from some strongly marked feature in their figures, or from fancied resemblance to some animal or plant."[38] The individuals "answer to" such nicknames, I suppose, but they cannot evolve, in a lifetime, respect for the plant or animal that yields the nickname, because they cannot forget how they come to bear it.

Obvious at a glance as such replies to such objections are, it seems that they have not occurred to the objectors.

If we want to discover clans adopting and glorying in names which are certainly, in origin, derisive nicknames, we find Clan Diarmaid, whose name, Campbell, means "Wry Mouth,"[38] and Clan Cameron, whose name means "Crooked Nose."[39] Moreover, South African tribes believe that tribal siboko, as Baboon and Alligator, may, and did, arise out of nicknames; for, as we have seen, their myths assert that nicknames are the origin of such tribal and now honourable names. I cannot prove, of course, that the process of adopting a name given from without occurred among prehistoric men, but I have demonstrated that, among all sorts and conditions of men in our experience, the process is a vera causa.

Dismissing my theory, Mr. Howitt, in place of it, "could more easily imagine that these early savages might, through dreams, have developed the idea of relationship with animals, or even with plants."[40] They might; a man, as in the case given, might dream of a lace lizard, and believe that he was one. He might even be named, as an individual, "Lace Lizard," but that does not help us. Totem names, as Mr. Fison insists, are, and always were, group names. But Mr. Howitt "gets no forrarder," if he means that the children of his Lace Lizard become a totem kin of Lace Lizards, for under a system of female descent the man's children would not be Lace Lizards. Does Mr. Howitt know of a single instance in a tribe with female kin where the children of a man who, on dream evidence, believed himself to be a Kangaroo, were styled Kangaroos? He must adopt the line of saying that, while totemism was being evolved, women did the dreaming of being Hakea flowers, Witchetty Grubs, Kangaroos, Emus, and so forth, and bequeathed the names to their children. But he will not find that process going on in any known instance, I fear.

The processes of my hypothesis, though necessarily conjectural, are at least veræ causæ, are in human nature, as we know it. A curious new example of totems, certainly based on sobriquets not derived from animals, occurs among the Warramanga tribe of Central Australia. One totem kin is merely called "The Men" (Kati), the name which, in dozens of cases, a tribe gives to itself. Another totem kin is called "The Laughing Boys" (Thaballa), a name which is obviously a nickname, and not given from within. The Thaballa have found it necessary to evolve a myth about descent from a giggling boy and his giggling playmates, and to practise magic for their behoof, as they are supposed not to be dead. All this has clearly been done by the Laughing Boy totem kin merely to keep themselves in line with other totem kins named from lower animal form.[41] This totem name can have been nothing but a group nickname.[42]

I have next to explain the nature of the superstitious regard paid by totemists to their name-giving animals.

My guess, says Dr. Durkheim, is "difficult for those who know the religious character of the totem, the cult of which it is our object to explain. How could a sobriquet become the centre of a regular religious system?"

Dr. Durkheim calls the system "religious," and adds that I "leave on one side this religious aspect of totemism: but to do so is to leave on one side the essential factor in the phenomenon to be explained."

Now, as a matter of fact, I left no element of Australian totemism "on one side." I mentioned every totemic tabu and magical practice that was known to me. But I do not (it is really a mere question of words) describe the beliefs as "religious." Dr. Durkheim does; he describes them, as we saw, almost in the terms of the Creed of St. Athanasius. But I find, in Australia, no case of such religious usages as praying to, or feeding, or burying, the totem. Such really "religious" rites are performed, in Samoa, for example, where an animal, once probably a totem, is now regarded as the shrine or vehicle of an ancestral spirit, who has become a kind of god,[43] and, in Egypt, the animal gods had once, it seems all but certain, been totems. In Australia, to be sure, two totems, Eagle Hawk and Crow, were creators, in some myths. So far, totemic conceptions may be called "religious" conceptions, more or less, and if Dr. Durkheim likes to call totems "gods," as he does, he has a right to do so. The difference here, then, is one of terminology.

We can also show how totems in Australia become involved in really religious conceptions, as I understand "religion," if we may cite Mr. Howitt's evidence. Mr. Howitt says: "This is certain, that when the aboriginal legends purport to account for the origin of totemy, that is to say the origin of the social divisions which are named after animals, it is not the totems themselves to whom this is attributed, nor to the black fellows, but it is said that the institutions of these divisions and the assumption of the animal names, were in consequence of some injunction of the great supernatural being, such as Bunjil, given through the mouth of the wizard of the tribe."[44] "Any tradition of the origin of the two classes" (phratries) "is one which attributes it to a supernatural agency."[45] Accepting Mr. Howitt's evidence (always welcomed on other points), one source of the "religious" character of totemism is at once revealed. The totemist obeys the decree of Bunjil, or Baiame, as the Cretans obeyed the divine decrees given by Zeus to Minos.

Though I had not observed this statement by Mr. Howitt, still, in Social Origins, I have quoted five cases in which a supernormal being or beings, licensed, or actually ordained, the totemic rules, thereby giving them, in my sense of the phrase, a real religious sanction. Rules with a religious sanction, vouched for by a myth which explained the divine origin of a name, might well become "the centre of a veritable religious system."[46]

As another example of the myth that totems are of divine or supernormal institution, Mrs. Langloh Parker gives the following case from the Euahlayi tribe, on the Queensland border of north-west New South Wales. Their nearest Kamilaroi neighbours live a hundred and fifty miles away, but they call their "over-god," or "All Father," by the Kamilaroi word Baiame, pronounced "Byamee"; in other respects they "have only a few words the same as the Kamilaroi." These words, however, indicate, I think, a previous community of language.

Mrs. Langloh Parker writes, on this matter of the divine institution of totems, "A poor old blind black fellow of over eighty came back here the other day. He told me some more legends, in one of which was a curiously interesting bit about the totems. The legend was about Byamee, and it spoke of him as having a totem name for every part of his body—even to a different one for each finger and toe. No one had a totem name at that time, but when Byamee was going away for good he gave each division of the tribe one of his totems, and said that every one hereafter was to have a totem name which they were to take, men and women alike, from their mother; all having the same totem must never marry each other, but be as brothers and sisters, however far apart were their hunting grounds. That is surely some slight further confirmation of Byamee as one apart, for no one else ever had all the totems in one person; though a person has often a second or individual totem of his own, not hereditary, given him by the wirreenuns (sorcerers or medicine men), called his yunbeai, any hurt to which injures him, and which he may never eat—his hereditary totem he may."

In such cases, myths give a "religious" origin for totemism.

Tribes which have religious myths, attributing totemism to the decree of a superhuman being, may also have other myths giving quite other explanations. Thus the Dieri were said to have a fable to the effect that Mura-Mura, "the creator," enjoined totemism, to regulate marriage.[47] Later, Mr. Howitt learned that "in the plural form Mura-Mura means the deceased ancestors themselves."[48] In fact, in the plural, the Mura-Mura answer more or less to the Alcheringa men of the Arunta, to that potent, magical, partly human, partly divine, partly bestial, race, which, like the Greek Titans, appears in so many mythologies, and "airs" the world for the reception of man. It is usual to find a divine word, like Mura-Mura, in the plural, meaning this kind of race, while in the singular, the term seems to denote a deity.[49]

Whether there be such a singular form of Mura-Mura in Dieri, with the sense of deity, I know not. Mr. Gason, an initiated man, says that he (Mura-Mura) made men out of Lizards. Ancestral spirits are not here in question.

Mr. Howitt now knows a Dieri myth by which totems were not divinely decreed, but were children of a Mura-Mura, or Alcheringa female Titan. Or, in another myth, as animals, they came out of the earth in an isle, in a lake, and "being revived by the heat of the sun, got up and went away as human beings in every direction."[50]

Such are the various myths of the Dieri. Another myth attributes exogamy to a moral reformatory movement, which, of course, could only be imagined by men living under exogamy already.

In other cases, as in America among the north-western peoples, a myth of ancestral friendship with the totem animal is narrated. That myth is conditioned by the prevailing animistic belief that a man's soul is reincarnated in a man, a beast's, in a beast, though some tribes hold that a soul always incarnates itself in but one species. The Arunta myth is that semi-bestial forms became human, and that the souls of these totem ancestors are reincarnated in human children. As a rule, the totem, being explained in myth as a direct ancestor of the totemist, or a kinsman, or as the animal out of which he was evolved, receives such consideration as ancestral spirits, where they have a cult, obtain,... more or less religious. All these facts are universally known. There is here no conjecture. I do not need to guess that such more or less religious myths of the origin of the connection between totem and totemist would probably be evolved. They actually were evolved, and a large collection of them may be found in Mr. Frazer's Totemism.

In but one case known to me, a non-religious and thoroughly natural cause of the totem name is given. Two totem kins are said to be so called "from having, in former times, principally subsisted on a small fish, and a very small opossum." These are but two out of seven kins, in one Australian tribe. In the other five cases the totem kins, according to the myth, are descended from their totem animals, and, of course, owe to them, in each case, friendly kinship and regard.[51]

Enfin, it suffices for me to record all the known facts of totemic tabu and practice, in Australia, and, as long as I give them, it matters very little whether I call them "religious" or not. They certainly are on the frontiers of religion: it is more important to explain their evolution than to dispute about the meaning of a term, "religion," which every one defines as he pleases. To the evolution of totemic marriage rules out of a certain belief as to the name-giving animals of groups, we next turn.

So far we have reached these results: we guess that for the sake of distinction groups gave each other animal and plant names. These became stereotyped, we conjecture, and their origin was forgotten. The belief that there must necessarily be some connection between animals and men of the same names led to speculation about the nature of the connection. The usual reply to the question was that the men and animals of the same names were akin by blood. That kinship, with animals, being peculiarly mysterious, was peculiarly sacred. From these ideas arose tabus, and among others, that of totemic exogamy.

The nature and origin of the supposed connection or rapport between each human group and its name-giving animal is thus explained in a way consistent with universally recognised savage modes of thinking, and with the ordinary process by which collective names, even in modern times, are given from without. Dr. Pikler, Major Powell, Mr. Herbert Spencer, Lord Avebury, Mr. Howitt, and others have recognised that the names are the germ of totemism. But both Mr. Herbert Spencer and Lord Avebury appear to think that the name Eagle Hawk or Crow, or Wolf or Raven, was originally that of a male ancestor, who founded a clan that inherited his name. Thus a given Donald, of the Islay family, marrying a MacHenry heiress, gave the name "MacDonald" to the MacHenrys of Glencoe. But this theory is impossible, as we must repeat, in conditions of inheriting names through women, and such were the conditions under which totemism arose. The animal name, now totemic, from the first was a group name, as Mr. Fison argued long ago. "The Australian divisions show that the totem is, in the first place, the badge of a group, not of an individual.... And even if it were first given to an individual, his family, i.e. his children, could not inherit it from him."[52] These are words of gold.

[1] Darwin, Descent of Man, it pp. 361-363. 1871.

[2] I do not extend conjecture to a period when "our human or half-human ancestors" may hare had a rutting season, like stags. Cf. Westermarck, History of Human Marriage, pp. 27, 28.

[3] Here I cannot but remark on the almost insuperable difficulty of getting savants to understand an unfamiliar idea. M. Salomon Reinach writes, "Another theory (Atkinson, Letourneau) explains exogamy as the result of the sexual jealousy of the male, chief of the primitive group. (Cf. L'Année Sociologique, 1904, pp. 407, 434.) He is supposed to have tabooed all the women of the clan, reserving them for himself. This conception of a chief not only polygamous but omnigamous" (pasigamous must be meant!) "is founded on no known ethnological fact." (Cultes, Mythes et Religions, i. 161, Note I, 1905.) Mr. Atkinson does not speak of a "clan" at all. The "clan," in French, American, and some English anthropologists' terminology, is a totem kin with exogamy and female reckoning of descent. Mr. Atkinson speaks, in the first instance, of "family groups," "the cyclopean family," and a sire with his female mates and children. Such a sire is no more and no less "omnigamous" than a Turk in his harem, except that, as his condition is "semi-brutish," his daughters (as in Panama, in 1699) are not tabooed to him. Ethnology cannot now find this state of things of course; it is a theory of Mr. Darwin's, based on the known habits of the higher mammals.

[4] See Mr. Crawley's "The Mystic Rose" for this theory of sexual taboo.

[5] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 153.

[6] Golden Bough, 2, i. pp. 404-446.

[7] Nineteenth Century, xxx. p. 566 sq.

[8] See examples in "Cupid and Psyche," in my Custom and Myth, and Mr. Clodd's Tom Tid Tot, pp. 91-93.

[9] Der Ursprung des Totemismus. Von Dr. Julius Pikler, Professor der Rechtsphilosophie an der Universität Budapest. K. Koffmann, Berlin, s.a. Apparently of 1900. This tract, "The Origin of Totemism," written in 1899, did not come to my knowledge till after this chapter was drafted.

[10] Contributions to the Science of Mythology, i. p. 201.

[11] Cf. Social Origins, pp. 141, 142.

[12] Ursprung des Totemismus, p. 7.

[13] See Colonel Mallery on Pictographs, Report of Bureau of Ethnology, 1888-1889, pp. 56-61.

[14] "From two inscriptions found at Elensis it appears that the names of the priests were committed to the depths of the sea, probably they were engraved on tablets of bronze or lead, and thrown into deep water in the Gulf of Salamis. ... A clearer illustration of the confusion between the incorporeal and the corporeal, between the name and its material embodiment, could hardly be found than in this practice of civilised Greece." (Golden Bough, 2, i p. 441.) Cf. Budge, Egyptian Magic, pp. 160-162, 1901. "The Egyptians regarded the creation as the result of the utterance of the name of the god Neb-er-tcher by himself Isis could not do her will on him till she learned the name of the god Ra." Messrs. Spencer and Gillen tell us that the great sky-dwelling Being of the Kaitish tribe "made himself and gave himself his name." He made himself very inadequately, according to the myth, which may rest on a false etymology, and the meaning of his name is not pretty, but it would not surprise one if, by uttering his name, he made himself. (Northern Tribes, p. 498.)

[15] Der Ursprung des Totemismus, pp. 10, 11.

[16] Social Origins, p. 138.

[17] I am sure to be told that in Chapter III. I declared local totem groups to be the result of reckoning in the male line, and not primitive, and that, here, I make the primitive animal-named group local. My reply is that in this passage I am not speaking of totem groups, but of local groups bearing animal names, a very different thing. A group may have borne an animal name long before it evolved totemic beliefs about the animal, and recognised it as a totem. No group that was not local could get a name to itself, at this early stage of the proceedings. The "local habitation" precedes the "name."

[18] Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes of Central Australia, p. 139.

[19] J. A. I., p. 53, August 1888.

[20] Social Origins, pp. 145, 146, and Note 1.

[21] J. A. I., August 1888, p. 51. South-Eastern Tribes, p. 736.

[22] Other tribes decidedly do understand. Can the Churinga nanja and reincarnation beliefs have set up nescience of obvious facts among the Arunta? "The children originate solely from the male parent, and only owe their infantine nurture to the mother," according to certain Australian tribes with female descent. (Howitt, J. A. I., 1882, p. 502. South-Eastern Tribes, pp. 283, 284. So, too, the Euahlayi. Mrs. Langloh Parker's MS.)

[23] Cf. Golden Bough, 2, i. pp. 360-362.

[24] Dalton, Ethnology of Bengal, p. 254.

[25] On this point of the blood tabu see Dr. Durkheim, L'Année Sociologique, i. pp. 47-57. Also M. Reinach, L'Anthropologie, vol. x. p. 65. The point was laid before me long ago by Mr. Arthur Platt, when he was editing the papers of Mr. J. F. McLennan. Dr. Durkheim charges me (Folk Lore, December 1903) with treating these tabus "vaguely" in Social Origins. I merely referred the reader more than once, as in Social Origins, p. 57, Note I, to Dr. Durkheim's own exposition, also to M. Reinach, L'Anthropologie, x. p. 65. The theory of the sacredness of the blood is not absolutely necessary. The totem tabu often excludes all contact with the totem by the totemist.

[26] The passage will be found in Social Origins, pp. 166-175.

[27] Social Origins, pp. 295-301.

[28] Folk Lore, December 1903, p. 423.

[29] Vindication of Cameron's Name. "Saints of the Covenant," i. p. 251.

[30] Northern Tribes, p. 10, Note 2.

[31] J. J. Atkinson. The natives call us "White Men." We do not call ourselves "God dams," but Jeanne d'Arc did.

[32] Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada, vol. ix., vii. pp. 64, 66.

[33] Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada, ut supra, pp. 96, 97.

[34] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 154.

[35] Blackfoot Lodge Tales, p. 208, 1893.

[36] Op. cit., p. 225.

[37] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 131.

[38] Spencer and Gillen, Central Tribes, p. 638.

[39] Macbain, Gaelic Etymological Dictionary.

[40] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 154.

[41] Northern Tribes, pp. 207-210.

[42] I am unable to understand how Mr. Howitt can say that he knows no Australian case of such nicknames being adopted. Mentioning Mr. Haddon's theory that groups were named each after its special variety of food, he says "this receives support from the fact that analogous names obtain now in certain tribes, e.g. the Yum." (Op. cit., p. 154.) I understand Mr. Haddon to mean that these names were sobriquets given from without and accepted. If so, Mr. Howitt does know such cases after all. Unluckily he gives no instances in treating of Yuin names, unless names of individuals derived from their skill in catching or spearing this or that bird or fish are intended. These exist among the more elderly Kunaï. (Op. cit., p. 738.) But Mr. Haddon was not thinking of such individual names of senior men, but of group names. On his theory Wolves and Ravens were so styled because wolves and ravens were their chief articles of diet.

[43] See Turner's Samoa, and Mr. Tylor, J. A. I., N.S., i. p. 142.

[44] J. A. I., August 1888, pp. 53, 54. Also volume xiii. p. 498. Cf., too Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 89, 488, 498.

[45] J. A. I., August 1888, p. 67.

[46] Bureau of Ethnology Report, 1892, 1893, Part I. pp. 22, 23. Howitt, Organisation of Australian Tribes, p. 134 Information from Mrs. Langloh Parker. These sources give Menomini, Dieri, Murring, Woeworung, and Euahlayi myths, attributing totemic rules and names to divine institution.

[47] Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 25.

[48] J. A. I., 1888, p. 498. Cf. Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 482-484. Mura-Mura, till further notice, are mythical ancestors, not reincarnated.

[49] Making of Religion, p. 232, 1898.

[50] Assoc. Adv. Science, p. 531, and Note 30, 1902. For other discrepant myths, cf. Native Tribes of S.E. Australia, pp. 475, 482.

[51] Grey, Vocabulary of the Dialects of South-Western Australia. That only two of seven totems in one tribe were explained is usually overlooked.

[52] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 165, 1880.



How phratries and totem kins were developed—Local animal-named groups would be exogamous—Children in these will bear the group names of their mothers—Influence of tattooing—Emu local group thus full of persons who are Snipes, Lizards, &c—by maternal descent—Members are Emus by local group name: Snipes, Lizards, &c., by name of descent—No marriage, however, within local group—Reason, survival of old tabu—Reply to Dr. Durkheim—The names bring about peaceful relations between members of the different local groups—Tendency to peaceful betrothals between men and women of the various local groups—Probable leadership of two strong local groups in this arrangement—Say they are groups Eagle Hawk and Crow—More than two such groups sometimes prominent—Probable that the dual alliance was widely Imitated—The two chief allied local groups become the phratries—Tendency of phratries to die out—Often superseded by matrimonial classes—Meaning of surviving phratry names often lost, and why—Their meaning known in other tribes—Members, by descent, of various animal names, within the old local groups (now phratries), become the totem kins of to-day—Advantages of this theory—Difficulties which it avoids.

We have perhaps succeeded in showing how totemism my have become a belief and a source of institutions: we have shown, at least, that granting savage methods of thought, totemism might very naturally have come in this way.

Totemism certainly arose in an age when, if descent reckoned, and, if names were inherited, it was on the spindle side. "All abnormal instances," writes Mr. Howitt, "I have found to be connected with changes in the line of descent. The primitive and complete forms" (of totemism) "have uterine descent, and it is in cases where descent is counted in the male line that I find the most abnormal forms to occur."[1]

As few scholars seriously dispute this opinion of Mr. Howitt, based on a very wide experience, and fortified by the almost universal view that descent was reckoned, when totemism began, in the female line, and as the point is accepted by every author whose ideas I have been discussing, we need not criticise hypotheses which assume that totemism arose when descent was reckoned in the male line, or that totems arose out of personal manitus of males, transferred to the female line.

Now, granting that our system so far may afford a basis of argument, we have to show how the phratries and the totem kins within them might be logically and naturally developed.

If it be granted that exogamy existed in practice, on the lines of Mr. Darwin's theory, before the totem beliefs lent to the practice a sacred sanction, our task is relatively easy. The first practical rule would be that of the jealous Sire, "No males to touch the females in my camp," with expulsion of adolescent sons. In efflux of time that rule, become habitual, would be, "No marriage within the local group." Next, let the local groups receive names, such as Emus, Crows, Opossums, Snipes, and the rule becomes, "No marriage within the local group of animal name; no Snipe to marry a Snipe." But, if the primal groups were not exogamous, they would become so, as soon as totemic myths and tabus were developed out of the animal, vegetable, and other names of small local groups.

The natural result will be that all the wives among the local groups called Snipes will come to bear names other than Snipe, will come to be known by the names of the local groups from which they have been acquired. These names they will retain, I suggest, in local group Snipe, by way of distinction—as the Emu woman, the Opossum woman, and so forth. The Emus know the names of the groups from which they have taken women, and it seems probable enough that the women may even have borne tattoo marks denoting their original groups, as is now in some places the Australian practice. "It probably has been universal," says Mr. Haddon.[2]

If, then, the stranger women among the Emus are known, in that local group, as the Opossum woman, the Snipe woman, the Lizard woman; their children in the group might very naturally speak of each other as "the Snipe woman's, the Lizard woman's children," or more briefly as "the little Snipes," "the young Lizards," and so on. I say "might speak," for though totem names have the advantage of being easily indicated, and in practice are often indicated by gesture language, I take it that by this time man had evolved language.[3]

In course of time, by this process (which certainly did occur, though at how early a stage it came first into being we cannot say), each local group becomes heterogeneous. Emu local group is now full of members of Snipe, Lizard, and other animal-named members by maternal descent. There are thus what Mr. Howitt has called "Major totems" (name-giving animals of local groups), and "Minor totems" (various animal names of male and female members within, for example, local group Emu, these various animal names being acquired by female descent). Each member of a local Emu group is now Emu by local group; but is Snipe, Lizard, Opossum, Kangaroo, or what not, by name of maternal descent.

This theory is no original idea, it is Mr. McLennan's mode of accounting for the heterogeneity of the local group. They are not all Wolves, for example, where descent is reckoned in the female line, and exogamy is the rule. In the local group Wolf are Ravens, Doves, Dogs, Cats, what you will, names derived by the children from mothers of these names. I do not pretend that I can demonstrate the existence of the process, but it accounts for the facts and is not out of harmony with human nature. Can any other hypothesis be suggested?

When things have reached this pitch, each local group, if it understood the situation as it is now understood among most savages, might find wives peacefully in its own circle. Lizard man, in local group Emu, might marry Snipe woman also in local group Emu, as far as extant totem law now goes. They were both, in fact, members of a small local tribe of animal name, with many kins of animal names, by female descent, within that tribe. Why then might not Snipe (by descent) in Emu local group marry a woman, by descent Lizard, in the same Emu local group? Many critics have asked this question, including Dr. Durkheim.[4] I had given my answer to the question before it was asked,[5] backing my opinion by a statement of Dr. Durkheim himself. People of different totems in the same local group (say Emu) might have married; but then, as Dr. Durkheim remarks in another case, "the old prohibition, deeply rooted in manners and customs, survives."[6] "Now the old prohibition in this case was that a man of the Emu (local) group was not to marry a woman of the Emu (local) group. That rule endures, even though the Emu group now contains men and women of several distinct and different totem kins," that is to say, of different animal-named kins by descent.

I may add that, as soon as speculation about the animal names led to the belief in the mystic rapport between the animals and their human namesakes, and so led to tabu on the intermarriage of persons of the same animal name, the tabu would attach as much to the name-giving animal of the local group as to the animals of the kins by descent within that local group.

Thus Lizard man, in Emu local group, cannot marry Snipe woman in the same. Both are also, by local group name, Emus. He is Emu-Lizard, she is Emu-Snipe.

If it be replied that now no regard is paid by the members of a phratry to their phratriac animal (where it is known), I answer that the necessary poojah is done, by the members of the totem kin of that animal, within his phratry, while all do him the grace of not marrying within his name.[7] A Lizard man and a Snipe woman in Emu local group could not, therefore, yet marry. The members of the local group, though of different animal names of descent, had still to ravish brides from other hostile local groups.

Each local group was now full of men and women who, by maternal descent, bore the same animal names as many members of the other local groups. A belief in a mystic rapport between the bearers of the animal names and the animals themselves now being developed, Snipe and Lizard and Opossum by descent, in Emu local group, must already have felt that they were not really strangers and enemies to men of the same names by descent, Snipe, Lizard, and Opossum, and of the same connection with the same name-giving animals, in Kangaroo local group, or any other adjacent local group.

This obvious idea—human beings who are somehow connected with the same animals are also connected with each other—was necessarily an influence in favour of peace between the local groups. In whatever local group a Snipe by descent might be, he would come to notice a connection between himself and Snipes by descent in all other local groups. Consequently men at last arranged, I take it, to exchange brides on amicable terms, instead of Snipe by descent risking the shedding of kindred blood, that of another Snipe by descent, in the mellay of a raid to lift women from another local group.

If two strong local groups, say Emu and Kangaroo, or Eagle Hawk and Crow, took the lead in this treaty of alliance and connubium, and if the other local groups gradually came into it under their leadership (for union would make Eagle Hawk and Crow powerful), or if several local groups chose two such groups to head them in a peaceful exchange of brides, we have, in these two now united and intermarrying local groups of animal name, say Eagle Hawk and Crow, the primal forms of the actual phratries of to-day.

But why do we find in a tribe only two phratries? I have asked myself and been asked by others. In the first place, in America, we note examples of three or more phratries in the same tribe. Again, in Australia, we seem to myself to find probable traces of more than two phratries in a tribe, traces of what Mr. Frazer styles "sub-phratries," what one may call "submerged phratries" (see Chapter X.). Further, dual alliances are the most usual form of such combinations: two strong groups, allied and setting the example, would attract the neighbouring groups into their circle. Finally, if I am right in thinking that the phratriac arrangement arose in a given centre, and was propagated by emigrants, and was borrowed by distant tribes (which is a point elsewhere discussed), the original model of a dual alliance would spread almost universally, while, as has been said, traces of more numerous combinations appear to occur.

Except as parties of old to a peaceful arrangement, the phratries, as they at present exist (where they exist), have often now no reason for existence. Where totems are exogamous, or where totems and matrimonial classes exist, the phratry is now an empty survival; having done its work it does no more work, and often vanishes. If members of local animal-named groups, become fully totemic, had at once understood their own position as under the now existing totem law, they could have taken wives of different totems of descent each in their own group, without any phratries at all. People manage their affairs thus in all totemic parts of the world where there are no phratries, though, for what we know, phratries may have existed, and vanished, in these places, when their task was ended.

Again, phratries die out, we repeat, even in America and Australia. In some regions of Australia their place has been taken by the opposed matrimonial classes, prohibiting marriage between mothers' and sons', fathers' and daughters' generations. That arrangement, as it is not found in the most primitive Australian tribes, which have only phratries and totems, must be later than phratries and totems. It was a later enactment, within the phratry, and, as among the Arunta and Wiraidjuri, it has now superseded the phratry. The matrimonial classes, originally introduced within each pre-existing phratry, now regulate marriage, among Arunta and Wiraidjuri, and the phratry has dropped off, its name being unknown, like the flower which has borne its fruit.

Again, in Australia, as has been said, we shall try to show that phratries, in many tribes, are perhaps a borrowed institution, not an institution independently evolved everywhere. That is rendered probable because, among many tribes, the phratry names survive but are now meaningless, yet these same phratry names possess, or have recently possessed, a meaning in the language of other tribes, from whom the institution may apparently (though not necessarily) have been borrowed with the foreign names of each phratry.

For all these reasons, phratries seem, in some regions, to be a device adopted, by some tribe, or tribes, at a given moment, for a given purpose (peace), and borrowed from them by some other tribes, or propagated by emigrants into new lands. Men might borrow the names of the phratries, or might use other names which were already current designations of their own local groups. The purpose of the phratry organisation, I argue, may have been the securing of peace and alliance, and the movement may have been originated, somewhere in Australia, by two powerful local groups of animal name; in one vast region known as Eagle Hawk and Crow, Mukwara and Kilpara, and by other names of the same meaning. Such I take to have been the mode in which phratries arose, out of the alliance and connubium of two local groups, say Eagle Hawk and Crow; or of more than two groups. Mr. Frazer says that the Moquis of Arizona have ten phratries (quoting Bourke, Snake Dance, p. 336) and the Wyandots have four; the Mohegans have three.[8] These, or other groups, took the lead in recognising the situation, namely, that brides might be peacefully exchanged among local groups becoming conscious of common kinship in their totems by descent.

Meanwhile, in the various otherwise animal-named members of local groups Eagle Hawk and Crow—in the men and women within local groups Eagle Hawk and Crow who were Snipes, Lizards, Opossums, and so on, by maternal descent—we have the forerunners of the totem kins within the phratries of to-day. In the same way, members of all other adjacent local groups could also come into Eagle Hawk and Crow phratries by merely dropping their local group-names, keeping their names by descent.

We have not, on this system, to imagine that there were but two totem groups in each district, at the beginning (a thing unlikely to happen anywhere, still less always and everywhere), and that many of their members, hiving off, took new totem names. Our scheme gives us, naturally, and on Mr. Darwin's lines, first, many small local groups, perhaps in practice exogamous; then these local groups invested with animal names; then, the animals become totems, sanctioning exogamy; then by exogamy and female descent, each animal-named local group becomes full of members of other animal names by descent; then an approach to peace among all the groups naturally arises; then pacific connubium between them all, at first captained by two leading local groups, say Crow and Eagle Hawk (though there is no reason why there should not have been more of such alliances in a tribe, and there are traces of them),[9] and, lastly, the allies prevailing, the inhabitants of a district became an harmonious tribe, with two phratries (late local groups), say Eagle Hawk and Crow, and with the other old local group-names represented in what are now the totem kins within the phratries. This arrangement, in course of time, is perhaps even borrowed, foreign phratry names and all, by distant groups hitherto not thus organised.

This scheme, it will be observed, is in harmony with what Mr. Howitt's knowledge of native life shows him to have occurred. From the beginning, in the physical conditions of Australia, no horde or communal mob could keep together, for lack of supplies. No assemblage "could assume dimensions more than that of a few members," before it was broken up by economic causes.[10] There were thus, in a district, many small groups, not, as on Dr. Durkheim's theory, just two groups, broken out of a larger horde by their unexplained religious devotion each to its own god, an animal, say Eagle Hawk for one group, Crow for the other. On the other hand, there was now an indefinite number of small local groups, each of animal name, each containing members of as many names of descent as the local groups from which each local group had taken wives. Such groups would now be larger than mere hearth-circles, in proportion as improved skill in fishing, net-making, spearing, and trapping animals, and in selecting and cooking edible vegetables and roots, with improved implements, enabled larger groups to subsist in their territorial area. This scheme is manifestly consistent with the probable economic and social conditions, while the animal group-names are explained by the necessity under which the groups lay to differentiate each other by names. The regard later paid to the name-giving animals as totems is explained, on the ground of the savage theory of the mystical quality of names of unknown origin, names also borne by animals, powerful, wise, mysterious creatures.

These processes must have occupied long ages in evolution.

This hypothesis escapes the difficulty as to how an incestuous horde, guided by an inspired medicine man, could ever come to see that there was such a thing as incest, and that such a thing ought not to be tolerated. We also escape Dr. Durkheim's difficulty—How did two hostile sects of animal worshippers arise in the "compact mass" of the horde; and how could they, though of one blood, claim separate origins? We also see how totem kins could occur within the phratries, without needing to urge alternately that such kins both do and do not possess a territorial basis. Again, we have not to decide, what we can never know, whether man was originally gregarious and promiscuous or not. We see that circumstances forced him to live in groups so small that the jealous will of the Sire or Sires could enforce exogamy on the young members of the camp, a prohibition which the natural conservatism of the savage might later extend to the members of the animal-named local group, even when heterogeneous. However heterogeneous by descent, all members of the local group were, by habitat, of one animal name, and when tabus arose in deference to the sacred animal, these tabus forbade marriage whether in the animal-named local group, or in the animal name of descent.

So far, the theory "marches," and meets all facts known to us, in pristine tribes with female descent, phratries, and totem kins, but without "matrimonial classes," four or eight. The theory also meets facts which have not, till now, been recognised in Australia, and which we proceed to state.

[1] Rep. Reg. Smithsonian Institute, p. 801, 1883.

[2] Evolution in Art, pp. 252-257.

[3] "This question, Minna Murdu?" ("What totem?") "can be put by gesture language, to which, in the same way, a suitable reply can be made." (Mr. Howitt, on the Dieri. Rep. Reg. Smith. Institute, p. 804, Note I, 1883.)

[4] Folk Lore, December 1903.

[5] Social Origins, p. 56, Note 1.

[6] L'Année Sociologique, v. p. 106, Note I.

[7] The Kamilaroi are said to offer exceptions to this rule.

[8] Totemism, pp. 60-62. We must remember that American writers use the word "phratry" in several quite different senses; we cannot always tell what they mean when they use it.

[9] If the Urabunna rules are correctly reported on, they may have several "sub-phratries."

[10] J. A. I., xii. p. 497.



On our theory, in each phratry there should be a totem kin of the phratry name—If not, fatal to Dr. Durkheim's and Mr. Frazer's theories, as well as to ours—The fact occurs in America: why not in Australia?—Questions asked by Mr. Thomas—The fact, totem kins of phratriac names within the phratries, does occur in Australia—The fact not hitherto observed—Why not observed—Three causes—The author's conjecture—Evidence proving the conjecture successful—Myth favouring Mr. Fraser's theory—Another myth states the author's theory—Mukwara and Kilpara remain, as phratry names, among many tribes which give other names to Eagle Hawks and Crows—The Eagle Hawk, under another name, is totem in Mukwara (Eagle Hawk) phratry—The Crow, under another name, is a totem Kilpara (Crow) phratry—Thus the position is the same as in America—List of examples in proof—Barinji, Barkinji. Ta-ta-thi, Keramin, Wiraudjuri, and other instances—Where phratry names are lost—Eagle Hawk and Crow totems are still in opposite phratries—Five examples—Examples of Cockatoo-named phratries, each containing its own Cockatoo totem—Often under new names—Bee phratries with Bee matrimonial classes—Cases of borrowed phratry and class names—Success of our conjectures—Practical difficulty caused by clash of old and new laws—Two totem kins cannot legally marry—Difficulty evaded—These kins change their phratries—Shock to tender consciences—Change takes the line of least resistance—Example of a change to be given.

On the theory propounded in the last chapter, the lead in making peaceful alliance and connubium between exogamous groups previously hostile, was probably taken, and the example was set, or the allies were captained, by two or in some cases more of the exogamous animal-named local groups themselves. Such leading groups, by our theory, in time became the two phratries of the tribe. If this were the case, these two kins, say Eagle Hawk and Crow, or, among the Thlinkets in America, Wolf and Raven, should be found to-day among the totem kins, should exist not only as names of phratries, but as names of totem kins in the phratries. If they are not so found, it will prove a serious objection, not only to our hypothesis, but to that of Dr. Durkheim, and (at one time at least) of Mr. J. G. Frazer. Their theory being that two primary totem kins sent off colonies which took new totem names, and that the primary kins later became phratries, in the existing phratries we should discover totem kins of the phratry names, say, totem kin Raven in Raven phratry, and totem kin Wolf in Wolf phratry. This phenomenon has been noted in America, but only faintly remarked on, or not at all observed, in Australia.

Why should there be this difference, if it does exist, in the savage institutions of the two continents? The facts which, on either theory—Dr. Durkheim's or my own—were to be expected, are observed in America; in Australia they have only been noticed in two or three lines by Mr. Howitt, which have escaped comment by theorists. When once we recognise the importance of Mr. Howitt's remark, that in some phratries the animals of phratry names "are also totems," we open a new and curious chapter in the history of early institutions.

As to America, both Mr. Frazer and Dr. Durkheim observe that "among the Thlinkets and Mohegans, each phratry bears a name which is also the name of one of the clans," thus the Thlinkets have a Wolf totem kin in Wolf phratry; a Raven totem kin in Raven phratry. Mr. Frazer adds, "It seems probable that the names of the Raven and Wolf were the two original clans of the Thlinkets, which afterwards, by subdivision, became phratries."[1]

We have seen the objections to this theory of subdivision (Chapter V. supra), in discussing the system of Dr. Durkheim, who, by the way, gives two entirely different accounts of the Thlinket organisation in three successive pages; one version from Mr. Morgan, the other more recent, and correct, from Mr. Frazer.[2] Wolf and Raven do not appear in Mr. Morgan's version.[3]

If Mr. Frazer's view in 1887 and Dr. Durkheim's are right, Eagle Hawk and Crow phratries, say, are in Australia examples of the primary original totem kins, and as totem kins they ought to remain (as Raven and Wolf do among the Thlinkets), after they become heads of phratries. Again, if I am right, the names of the two leading local groups, after becoming phratries, should still exist to this day in the phratries, as names of totem kins. This is quite obvious, yet except in the Thlinket case, the Haida case, and that of the Mohegans, we never (apparently) have found—what we ought always to find—within the phratries two totem kins bearing the same animal names as the phratries bear. Why is this? What has become of the two original, or the two leading local animal-named groups and totem kins? Nobody seems to have asked this very necessary question till quite recently.[4]

What has become of the two lost totem kins?

Mr. Thomas's objection to an earlier theory of mine, in which the two original totem kins were left in the vague, ought to be given in his own words: "Mr. Lang assumes" (in Social Origins) "that the animals of the original connubial groups" (phratries) "did not become totems, and, consequently, that there were no totem kins corresponding to the original groups. This can only have taken place if a rule were developed that men of Emu" (local) "group might not marry women of the Emu kin, and vice versa. This would involve, however, a new rule of exogamy distinct from both group (local) and kin (totem) bars to marriage. This must have come about either (a) because the Emu kin were regarded as potentially members of the Emu group (an extension of group exogamy, the existence of which it would be hard to prove), or (b) because the Emu group or Emu kin were (legally) kindred, and as such debarred from marrying. ... In either case, on Mr. Lang's theory, two whole kins were debarred from marriage or compelled to change their totems" (when phratries arose). "I do not know which is less improbable."

Certainly the two kins could not change their totems, and certainly they would not remain celibate.

Meanwhile the apparent disappearance in Australia of the two original, or leading, totem kins, of the same names as the phratries, is as great a difficulty to Dr. Durkheim's and Mr. Frazer's old theory as to my own, only they did not observe the circumstance.

How vanished the totem kins of the same names as the phratries? I answer that they did not vanish at all, and I go on to prove it. The main facts are very simple, the totem kins of phratry names in Australia are often in their phratries. But at a first glance this is not obvious. The facts escape observation for the following reasons:—

(1) In most totemic communities, except in Australia and in some American cases, there are no phratries, and consequently there is no possible proof that totem kins of the phratriac names exist, for we do not know the names of the lost phratries.

(2) In many Australian cases, such as those of the Wiraidjuri and Arunta, the phratries have now no names, and really, as phratries, no existence. Dual divisions of the tribes exist, but are known to us by the names of the four or eight "matrimonial classes" (a relatively late development)[5] into which they are parcelled, as, among the Arunta, Panunga, Bukhara, Purula, Kumara.[6]

We cannot therefore say in such cases, that the totem kins of phratriac names have vanished, because we do not know how the phratries were named; they may have had the names of two extant totem kins, but their names are lost.

(3) Again, there are Australian cases, as of the Urabunna and Dieri of Central Australia, in which the phratries have names—Matthurie and Kirarawa (Urabunna), or Matteri and Kararu (Dieri)—but these phratry names cannot be, or are not translated. Manifestly, then, the meaning of the names may be identical with names of extant totem kins in these phratries, may be names of obsolete or almost obsolete sacred meaning, originally denoting totems now recognised by other names in the everyday language of the tribe.

Confronted by the problem of the two apparently lost totem kins, those of the same names as the phratries, I conjectured that phratry names, now meaningless in the speech of the tribes where they appear, might be really identical in meaning with other names now denoting totem animals in the phratries. This conjecture proved to be correct, and I proceed to show how my conclusion was reached. The evidence, happily, is earlier than scientific discussion of the subject, and is therefore unbiassed.

So long ago as 1852 or 1853, Mr. C. G. N. Lockhart, in his Annual Report to the Government of New South Wales, recorded a myth of the natives on the Lower Darling River, which flows from the north into the Murray River, the boundary between New South Wales and Victoria.[7] The tribes had the phratries named by Mr. Lockhart Mookwara and Keelpara, usually written Mukwara and Kilpara. These were the usual intermarrying exogamous phratries. According to the natives, Mukwara and Kilpara were the two wives of a prehistoric black fellow, "the Eves of the Adam of the Darling," Mr. Lockhart says—like the Hebrew Lilith and Eve, wives of Adam, Lilith being a Serpent woman. (If Rachael and Leah are really animal names, they may be old phratry names, though I think it highly improbable.)

The children of wife Mukwara married those of wife Kilpara, and vice versa, the children taking the mother's name. Next, says the myth, as in the theories of Dr. Durkheim and Mr. Frazer, the two stocks, Mukwara and Kilpara, subdivided into totem kins, as Kilpara into Emu, Duck, &c., Mukwara into Kangaroo, Opossum, &c. (There is perhaps no modern theory of the origin of totemism, including my own, which has not been somewhere, and to some extent, anticipated by the mythical guesses of savages. The Port Fairy tribes, in their myth, take my view, and make the phratries arise in the male ancestor and his wife, two Cockatoos of various species; the totem kins were brought in by the sons of the two Cockatoos marrying women from a distance, of other animal parentage, their children keeping the maternal names, as Duck, Snipe, and so on. This myth is well inspired, for once!) In the passage of Mr. Lockhart, as cited by Mr. Curr, he does not give the translation of the names Mukwara and Kilpara. But in Mr. Brough Smyth's Aborigines of Victoria, a compilation of evidence published in 1878, we find another myth. "The natives of the northern parts of Victoria" believe that the makers of the world were "two beings that had severally the forms of the Crow and the Eagle Hawk." The Eagle Hawk was Mak-quarra; the Crow is Kil-parra.[8]

Again, Mr. Bulmer writes: "The blacks of the Murray"—the river severing northern Victoria from New South Wales—"are divided into two classes" (phratries), "the Mak-quarra, or Eagle, and the Kilparra, or Crow. If the man be Mak-quarra, the woman must be Kil-parra," by phratry.[9]

One myth (1852-53) explains Mukwara and Kilpara as wives of one man, and mothers of the phratries. The other (1878) says that Mukwara was a cosmic Eagle Hawk, Kilpara a cosmic Crow. They were on hostile terms, like Ormuzd and Ahriman; like the Thlinket phratry-founders, Raven and Wolf; and like the name-giving founders of phratries in New Britain, Te Kabinana, the author of good, and Te Kovuvura, the author of evil.[10] Eagle Hawk and Crow, Kilpara and Mukwara, in one of the myths, made peace, one condition being that "the Murray blacks should be divided into two classes" (phratries) called Mukwara and Kilpara, Eagle Hawk and Crow.[11]

Crow and Eagle Hawk, then, were apparently names of hostile groups, which, making connubium, became allied phratries.

The evidence thus is that Mukwara meant Eagle Hawk, that Kilpara meant Crow, in the language of some tribe which, so far, I have not been able to identify in glossaries. Probably the tribe is now extinct. But these two names for Eagle Hawk and Crow now denote two phratries in many widely separated tribes, which, in common use, employ various quite different names for Eagle Hawk and Crow.

Now the point is that, in Mukwara phratry (Eagle Hawk), we almost always find, under another name, Eagle Hawk as a totem kin; and in Kilpara, Crow, we find, under another name, Crow as a totem kin. In many other cases, we cannot translate the phratry names, but, by a fortunate chance, the meanings of Kilpara and Mukwara have been preserved, and we see that, as in America, so also in Australia, phratries contain totem kins representing the phratry animal-name givers.

We proceed to give instances.

On the Paroo River, for example, are the Barinji; they call the Eagle Hawk "Biliari," or Billiara; their name for Crow is not given[12] But among the Barinji, Biliari, the Eagle Hawk, is a totem in the phratry called Mukwara, which means Eagle Hawk; Crow is not given, we saw, but here at least is the totem kin Eagle Hawk—Biliari—in the Eagle Hawk phratry, called by the foreign, and, to the Barinji, probably meaningless name, "Mukwara" (Mak-quarra).[13] This applies to four other tribes.

The Barkinji have the same phratry names, Mukwara and Kilpara, as the Barinji. Their totem names are on the same system as those of the Ta-ta-thi Among the Ta-ta-thi the light Eagle Hawk is Waip-illi, he comes in Mukwarra, that is, in Eagle Hawk, phratry; and Walakili (the Crow), among the Ta-ta-thi, comes in Crow (Kilpara) phratry. The Wiimbaio, too, have totem Eagle Hawk in Mukwara (Eagle Hawk) and totem Crow in Kilpara (Crow).

The Keramin tribe live four hundred miles away from the Barinji. They have not the same name, Biliari, for the Eagle Hawk. Their name for Eagle Hawk is Mundhill. This totem, Eagle Hawk, among the Keramin, appears in Eagle Hawk phratry (Mukwara). The Keramin name for Crow is Wak. He occurs in Kilpara (Crow) phratry. All is as by my theory it ought to be.[14]

None of these tribes has "matrimonial classes," a relatively late device, or no such classes are assigned to them by our authorities. These tribes are of a type so archaic, that Mr. Howitt has called the primitive type, par excellence, "Barkinji."

All this set of tribes have their own names, in their own various tongues, for "Eagle Hawk" and "Craw," but all call their phratries by the foreign or obsolete names for "Eagle Hawk" and "Crow," namely, Mukwara and Kilpara. Occasionally either Crow totem is not given by our informants, or Eagle Hawk totem is not given, but Eagle Hawk, when given, is always in Eagle Hawk phratry (Mukwara), and Crow, when given, is always in Crow phratry (Kilpara). Where both Eagle Hawk and Crow totems are given, they invariably occur, Eagle Hawk totem in Mukwara (Eagle Hawk) phratry, and Crow totem in Kilpara (Crow) phratry.

In the Ngarigo tribe, the phratries are Eagle Hawk and Crow (Merung and Yukambruk), but neither fowl is given in the lists of totems, which, usually, are not exhaustive. The same fact meets us in the Wolgal tribe; the phratries are Malian and Umbe (Eagle Hawk and Crow), but neither bird is given as a totem.[15] Mr. Spencer, in a letter to me, gives, for a tribe adjacent to the Wolgal, the phratries Multu (Eagle Hawk), and Umbe (Crow); the totems I do not know. Among the Wiraidjuri tribe, Mr. Howitt does not know the phratry names, but the tribe have the Kamilaroi class names, and Eagle Hawk and Crow, as usual, in the opposite unnamed phratries. Among a sept of the Wiraidjuri on the Lachlan River, the phratry names are Mukula and Budthurung. The meaning of Mukula is not given, but Budthurung means "Black Duck" and Black Duck totem is in Black Duck phratry, Budthurung in Budthurung, as it ought to be.[16] Mr. Howitt writes that there is "no explanation" of why Budthurung is both a phratry name and a totem name. The fact, we see, is usual.

In several cases, where phratry names are lost, or are of unknown meaning, Eagle Hawk and Crow occur in opposite exogamous moieties, which once had phratry names, or now have phratry names of unknown significance. The evidence, then, is that Eagle Hawk and Crow totems, over a vast extent of country, have been in Eagle Hawk and Crow phratries, while, when they occur in phratries whose names are lost, the lost names or untranslatable names may have meant Eagle Hawk and Crow. Unluckily the names of the phratries of the central tribes about Lake Eyre and south-west—Kararu and Matteri—are of unknown meaning: such tribes are the Dieri, Urabunna, and their neighbours. We do indeed find Kuraru, meaning Eagle Hawk, in a tribe where the phratry name is Kararu; and Karawora is also a frequent name for Eagle Hawk in these tribes. But then Kurara means Rain, in a cognate tribe; and we must not be led into conjectural translations of names, based merely on apparent similarities of sound.

At all events, in the Kararu-Matteri phratries, we find Eagle Hawk and Crow opposed, appearing in opposite phratries in five cases, just as they do in tribes far south.[17] Again, in the Kulin "nation," now extinct, we learn that their phratries were Bunjil (Eagle Hawk) and Waa (Crow), while of the totems nothing is known.[18] It is obvious that several phratry names, capable of being translated, mean these two animals, Eagle Hawk and Crow, while two other widespread phratry names, Yungaru and Wutaru, appear to be connected with other animals. "The symbol of the Yungaru division," says Mr. Bridgman, "is the Alligator, and of the Wutaru, the Kangaroo."[19] Mr. Chatfield, however, gives Emu or Carpet Snake for Wutaru, and Opossum for Yungaru.[20]

More certain animal names for phratries are Kroki-Kumite; Krokitch-Gamutch; Krokitch-Kuputch; Ku-urokeetch-Kappatch; Krokage-Kubitch; all of which denote two separate species of cockatoo; while these birds, sometimes under other names, are totems in the phratries named after them. The tribe may not know the meaning of its phratry names. Thus, in tribes east of the Gournditch Mara, Kuurokeetch means Long-billed Cockatoo, and Kappatch means Banksian Cockatoo, as I understand.[21] But, within the phratries of all the Kuurokeetch-Kappatch forms of names, the two Cockatoos also occur under other names, as totem kins: such names are Karaal, Wila, Wurant, and Garchuka.[22]

In the Annan River tribe, Mr. Howitt gives the phratries as Walar (a Bee), and Marla (a Bee), doubtless two Bees of different species.[23] In this case two names of matrimonial classes, Walar and Jorro, also mean Bee. Other cases of conjectural interpretation of phratry names might be given, but where the phratry names can be certainly translated they are names of animals, in all Australian cases known to me except one. When the phratry names cannot be translated, the reason may be that they were originally foreign names, borrowed, with the phratriac institution itself, by one tribe from another. Thus if tribes with totems Eagle Hawk and Crow (Biliara and Waa, let us say) borrowed the phratriac institution from a Mukwara-Kilpara tribe, they might take over Mukwara and Kilpara as phratry names, while not knowing, or at last forgetting, their meaning.

Borrowing of songs and of religious dances is known to be common in the tribes, and it is certain that the Arunta are borrowing four class names from the north. Again, several tribes have the Kamilaroi class names (Ipai, Kumbo, Murri, Kubbi), but have not the Kamilaroi phratry names, Kupathin and Dilbi. Thus the Wiraidjuri, with Kamilaroi class names, have not Kamilaroi phratries, but have Mukula (untranslated), and Budthurung (Black Duck). The Wonghibon, with Kamilaroi class names, have phratries Ngielbumurra and Mukumurra. On the other hand the Kaiabara tribe, far north in Queensland, have the Kamilaroi phratry names Dilebi and Kubatine (= Dilbi and Kupathin), but their class names are not those of the Kamilaroi.[24]

It may be that some tribes, which had already phratries not of the Kamilaroi names, borrowed the Kamilaroi classes, while other tribes having the Kamilaroi phratries evolved, or elsewhere borrowed classes of names not those of the Kamilaroi.

Again, when the four or eight class system has taken firm hold, doing the work of the phratries, tribes often forget the meaning of the phratry names, or forget the names themselves. Once more, the phratry names may once have designated animals, whose names were changed for others, in the course of daily life, or by reason of some taboo. All these causes, with the very feeble condition of Australian linguistic studies, hamper us in our interpretations of phratry and class names. Often the tribes in whose language they originally occurred may be extinct. But we have shown that many phratry names are names of animals, and that the animals which give names to phratries often occur, in Australia as in America, as totems within their own phratries.

We have thus discovered the two lost totem kins!

Thus, if only for once, conjectures made on the strength of a theory are proved to be correct by facts later observed. We guessed (i.) that in the phratries should be totem-kin animals identical with the phratriac animals. We guessed (ii.) that the phratriac names of unknown sense might be identical in meaning with the actual everyday names of the totem animals. And we guessed (iii.) for reasons of early marriage law (as conjectured in our system) that the totem kins of the same names as the phratries would be found each in the phratry of its own name—if discovered in Australia at all.

All three conjectures are proved to be correct. The third was implied in Dr. Durkheim's and Mr. Frazer's old hypothesis, that there were two original groups, say Eagle Hawk and Crow, and that the totem kins were segmented out of them, so that each original animal-named group would necessarily head its own totemic colonies. But this, in many cases, as we have seen, is what it does not do, and another animal of its genus heads the opposite phratry.

Not accepting Mr. Frazer's old theory, I anticipated the discovery of Eagle Hawk totem kin in Eagle Hawk phratry, and of Crow in Crow phratry, for reasons less simple and conspicuous. It has been shown, and is obvious that, by exogamy and female descent, each local group of animal name, say Eagle Hawk and Crow, would come to contain members of every group name except its own. When the men of Crow local group had for generations never married a woman of Crow name, and when the wives, of other names, within Crow local group had bequeathed these other names to their children, there could be, in Crow local group, no Crow by descent, nor any Eagle Hawk by descent in Eagle Hawk local group.

Suppose that these two local groups, each full of members of other animal names derived from other groups by maternal descent, made connubium, and became phratries containing totem kins. What, then, would be the marriageable status of the two kins which bare the phratry names? All Crows would be, as we saw, by my system, in Eagle Hawk phratry; all Eagle Hawks would be Crow phratry (or other phratries, or "sub-phratries," if these existed). They could not marry, of course, within their own phratries, that was utterly out of the question. But, also, they could not marry into the opposite phratries, lately local groups, because these bore their own old sacred local group names. For the the law of the local group had been, "No marriage within the name of the local group," "No Crow to marry into local group Crow." Yet here is Crow who, by phratry law, cannot marry into his own phratry, Eagle Hawk; while, if he marries into phratry Crow, he contravenes the old law of "No marriage within the local group of your own name." That group, to be sure, is now an element in a new organisation, the phratry organisation, but, as Dr. Durkheim says in another case, "The old prohibition, deeply rooted in manners and customs, survives."[25]

This quandary would necessarily occur, under the new conditions, and in the new legal situation created by the erection of the two animal-named local groups into phratries.

Two whole totem kins, say Wolf and Raven, or Eagle Hawk and Crow, were, in the new conditions, plus the old legal survival, cut off from marriage. If they died celibate, their disappearance needs no further explanation. But they do not disappear. If they changed their totems their descendants are lost under new totem names; but, if totems were now fully-blown entities, they could not change their totems. They could, however, desert their local tribe, which has no tribal "religion" (it sometimes, however, has an animal name), and join another set of local groups (as Urabunna and Arunta do constantly naturalise themselves among each other, to-day), or, they could simply change their phratries (late their local groups). Eagle Hawk totem kin, by going into Eagle Hawk phratry, could marry into Crow phratry; and Crow totem kin, by going into Crow phratry, could marry into Eagle Hawk phratry. This, I suggest, was what they did.

This would entail a shock to tender consciences, as each kin is now marrying into the very phratry which had been forbidden to it. But, if totems were now full blown, anything, however desperate, was better than to change your totem; and after all, Eagle Hawk and Crow were only returning each into the new phratry which represented their old local group by maternal descent. Thus in America we do find Wolf totem kin, among the Thlinkets, in Wolf phratry, and Raven in Raven phratry; with Eagle Hawk in Eagle Hawk, Crow in Crow phratries, Cockatoo and Bee in Cockatoo and Bee phratries, Black Duck in Black Duck phratry, in Australia.

The difficulty, that Crow and Eagle Hawk were now marrying precisely where they had been forbidden to marry when phratry law first was sketched out, has been brought to my notice. But the weakest must go to the wall, and, as soon as the totem became (as Mr. Howitt assures us that it has become) nearer, dearer, more intimately a man's own than the phratry animal, to the wall, under pressure of circumstances, went attachment to the phratry. Il faut se marier, and marriage could only be achieved, for totem kins of the phratry names; by a change of phratry.

But is the process of totem kins changing their local groups (now become phratries) a possible process? Under the new régime of fully developed totemism it was possible; more, it was certainly done, in the remote past, by individuals, as I proceed to demonstrate.

[1] Totemism, p. 62. Cf. McLennan, Studies, Series II. pp. 369-371.

[2] L'Année Sociologique, i. pp. 5-7.

[3] It is not plain what Mr. Frazer meant when he wrote (Totemism, p. 63). "Clearly split totems might readily arise from single families separating from the clan and expanding into new clans." Thus a male of "clan" Pelican has the personal name "Pouch of a Pelican." But, under female descent, he could not possibly leave the Pelican totem kin, and set up a clan named "Pelican's Pouch." His wife, of course, would be of another "clan," say Turtle, his children would be Turtles; they could not inherit their father's personal name, "Pouch of a Pelican," and set up a Pelican's Pouch clan. The thing is unthinkable. "A single family separating from the clan" of female descent, would inevitably possess at least (with monogamy) two totem names, those of the father and mother, among its members. The event might occur with male descent, if the names of individuals ever became hereditary exogamous totems, but not otherwise. And we have no evidence that the personal name of an individual ever became a hereditary totem name of an exogamous clan or kin.

[4] It was first put to me by Mr. N. W. Thomas, in Man, January 1904, No. 2.

[5] Mr. Howitt affirms that the relative lateness of these classes, as sub-divisions of the phratries, is "now positively ascertained." (J. A. I., p. 143, Note. 1885.)

[6] Spencer and Gillen, passim.

[7] Curr, The Australian Race, ii. p. 165. Trubner, London, 1886.

[8] Brough Smyth, i. pp. 423-424. Mr. Howitt renders Kilpara, "Crow," among the Wiimbaio, citing Mr. Bulmer, (Native Tribes of S. E. Australia, p. 429.)

[9] Brough Smyth. i p. 86.

[10] Danks, J. A. I., xviii. 3, pp. 281-282.

[11] Brough Smyth, i. pp. 423, 424.

[12] Cameron, J. A. I., xiv. p. 348. Native Tribes of S-E. Australia, p. 99.

[13] Biliarinthu is a class name in the Worgaia tribe of Central Australia. (Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes, p. 747.)

[14] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 98-100.

[15] Ibid., p. 102.

[16] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 107.

[17] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 91-94.

[18] Ibid., p. 126.

[19] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 40. 1880.

[20] Ibid., p. 41.

[21] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 125.

[22] Ibid., pp. 121-124.

[23] Ibid., p. 118.

[24] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 116.

[25] L'Année Sociologique, v. p. 106, Note. Social Origins, p. 56, Note.



The totemic redistribution—The same totem is never in both phratries—This cannot be the result of accident—Yet, originally, the same totems must have existed in both phratries, on any theory of the origin of phratries—The present state of affairs is the result of legislation—To avoid clash of phratry law and totem law, the totems were redistributed—No totem in both phratries—Recapitulation—Whole course of totemic evolution has been surveyed—Our theory colligates every known fact—Absence of conjecture in our theory—All the causes are veræ causæ—Protest against use of such terms as "sex totems," "individual totems," "mortuary totems," "sub-totems"—The true totem is hereditary, and marks the exogamous limit—No other is genuine.

That the process of changing phratries was possible when it was necessary to meet, on the lines of least resistance, a matrimonial problem (there must always be some friction in law, under changed conditions) may be demonstrated as matter of fact. We are aware of an arrangement which cannot have been accidental, which evaded a clash of laws, and involved the changing of their phratries by certain members of totem kins.

That, at some early moment, the name-giving animals of descent had become full-blown totems, is plain from this fact, which occurs in all the primitive types of tribal organisation: The same totem never exists in both phratries.[1] This in no way increases, as things stand, the stringency of phratry law, of the old law, "No marriage in the local group," now a phratry. But it imposes a law perhaps more recent, "No marriage within the totem name by descent, and the totem kin." The distribution of totem kins, so that the same totem is never in both phratries, cannot, I repeat, be the result of accident.[2] Necessarily, at first, the same totem must have occurred, sometimes, in both of the local groups which, on our theory, became phratries. Thus if Eagle Hawk local group and Crow local group had both taken wives from Lizard, Wallaby, Cat, Grub, and Duck local groups, these women would bring Wallaby, Cat, Grub, Lizard, Duck names into both the Eagle Hawk and the Crow local groups. Yet Eagle Hawk and Crow phratries, representing Eagle Hawk and Crow local groups, never now contain, both of them, Snipe, Duck, Grub, Wallaby, Cat, and Emu totem kins. Snipe, Duck, and Wallaby are in one phratry; Cat, Grub, and Emu are in the other.

This is certainly the result of deliberate legislation, whether at the first establishment of phratry law, or later.

If the theory of Mr. Frazer and Dr. Durkheim, the theory that the two primal groups threw off totem colonies, be preferred to mine, it remains very improbable that colonies, swarming off the hostile Crow group, never once took the same new animal-names as those chosen by Eagle Hawk colonies: that the Eagle Hawk colonies, again, always chose new totems which were always avoided by the Crow colonies.

It would appear, then, that there must have been a time when several of the same totems by descent occurred in both phratries, or, at least, in both the local groups that became phratries. In that case, by phratry law, a Snipe in Eagle Hawk phratry might marry, out of his own phratry, in Crow phratry, a Snipe. By totem law, however, he may not do this. There was thus a clash of laws, as soon as totem law was fully developed, and the totems were therefore deliberately arranged so that one totem never appeared in both phratries. This law made it necessary, when Snipes occurred in both phratries, that some Snipes, say, in Eagle Hawk phratry, must cross over and join the other Snipes in Crow phratry, or vice versa. They obviously could not change their totems, and, of two evils, preferred to change their phratry, the representative of their old local group. Totems were beginning to override and flourish at the expense of phratries, a process in the course of which many phratry names are now of unknown meaning, many phratry names have even ceased to exist (the later matrimonial class names doing all that is needed), and outside of Australia, America, and parts of Melanesia, phratries seem not to be found at all among totemists—(the Melanesians have only rags of totemism left).

But where totems, under male kinship (as among the Arunta), have decayed, phratries, named or nameless (and, where nameless, indicated by the opposed matrimonial classes in Australia), do regulate exogamy still.

Thus the possibility of members of a totem kin changing phratries, as we suppose Eagle Hawk and Crow kins to have done, seems to have been demonstrated by actual fact, by that redistribution of totem kins in the phratries—never the same totem in both phratries—which cannot be due to accident, and is universal, except in the Arunta nation. In that nation the absence of the universal practice has been explained. (Cf. Chapter IV.)

It is clear that the first great change in evolution was the addition to the rule, "No marriage in the local group of animal name," of the rule, "No marriage in the animal name of descent," or totem, the totem being nearer and dearer to a man than his local group name, when that became a phratry name, including several totem kins.

Now that this feeling—to which the totem of the kin was far nearer and dearer than the old local group animal whence the phratry took its name—is a genuine sentiment, can be proved by the evidence of Mr. Howitt, who certainly is not biassed by affection for my theory—his own being contrary. He says: "The class name" (that is, in our terminology, the phratry name) "is general, the totem name is in one sense individual, for it is certainly nearer to the individual than the name of the moiety" (phratry) "of the community to which he belongs."[3] Again, "It is interesting to note that the totems seem to be much nearer to the aborigines, if I may use that expression, than the" (animals of?) "the primary classes," that is, phratries.[4]

As soon as this sentiment prevailed, wherever a clash of laws arose men would change their phratries, rather than change their totems, and we have seen that, to effect the present distribution of totems (never the same totem in each phratry), many persons must have changed their phratries, as did the two whole totem kins of the phratriac names, on my hypothesis. I reached these conclusions before Mr. Howitt informed us of the various dodges by which several tribes now facilitate marriages that are counter to the strict letter of the law.

It seems needless to dwell on the objection that my system "does not account for the fact that phratriac names—say Eagle Hawk, Crow—are commonly found over wide areas, and are not distributed in a way that Mr. Lang's 'casual' origin would explain."[5]

We have seen, though we knew it not when the objection was raised, that the institutions were perhaps in some cases diffused by borrowing, from a centre where Kilpara meant Crow, and Mukwara meant Eagle Hawk; and that these names, and the phratriac institution, reached regions very remote, and tribes in whose language Kilpara and Mukwara have no everyday meaning. If borrowing be rejected, then the names spread with the spread of migration from a given Mukwara-Kilpara centre, and other names for Eagle Hawk and Crow were evolved in everyday life.

Except as regards late "abnormalities," we have now surveyed the whole course of totemic evolution. May it not be said that my theory involves but a small element of conjecture? Man, however he began, was driven, by obvious economic causes, into life in small groups. Being man, he had individual likes and dislikes, involving discrimination of persons and some practical restraints. A sense of female kin and blood kin and milk kin was forced on him by the visible facts of birth, of nursing, of association. His groups undeniably did receive names; mainly animal names, which I show to be usual as group sobriquets in ancient Israel and in later rural societies. These names were peculiarly suitable for silent signalling by gesture language; no others could so easily be signalled silently; none could so easily be represented in pictographs, whether naturalistic or schematised into "geometrical" marks. It is no conjecture that the names exist, and exist in the diffused manner naturally caused by women handing on their names to their offspring, as, under a system of reckoning in the female line, they do to this day. It is no conjecture that the origin of the totem names has long been forgotten.

It is no conjecture that names are believed, by savages, to indicate a mystical rapport, and transcendental connection, between the name and all bearers of the name. It is no conjecture that this rapport is exploited for magical and other purposes. It is no conjecture that myths have been invented to explain the rapport which must, it is held, exist between Emu bird and Emu man, and so in all such cases. It is no conjecture that the myths explain the rapport, usually, as one of blood connection, involving duties and privileges. It is no conjecture that blood is held sacred, especially kindred blood, and that this belief involves exogamy, "No marriage within the blood of the man and the totem." We give reasons for everything, whereas, if a reformatory bisection of a promiscuous horde were made, by an inspired wizard, why did he do it, and why should each moiety take an animal name? Again, if there were no recognised pre-existing connection between human groups and animals, why should one group do magic for one animal, rather than for another, in cases where they do this magic?

We have thus reached totemism, and we trace its varying forms in the light of institutions which grew up in the evolution—under changing conditions—of the law of exogamy. The causes are demonstrably veræ causæ, conspicuously present in savage human nature, and the hypothesis appears to colligate all the known facts.

The eccentric and abnormal types of social organisation, as Mr. Howitt justly observes, are found in tribes which have adopted the reckoning of descent, or inheritance of names, in the male line. Phratry names lose their meanings or vanish, even phratries themselves decay, or are found with names that can hardly be original, names of cosmogonic anthropomorphic beings, as in New Britain. Totems, under male descent, become names of groups of locality, and local limits and local names (names of places, not totems) come to be the exogamous bounds, as among the isolated Kurnai.

In America, magical societies of animal names, and containing members of many totems, have been evolved. But we must not fall into the error of regarding such societies as "phratries." Nor must we confuse matters by regarding every animal now attached to any kind of association or individual as a totem. Each sex, in many Australian tribes, has an associated animal. Each dead man, in some communities, is classed under some name of an object of nature. Each individual may have a patron animal familiar revealed to him, in a dream, or by an accident, after a fast, or may have it selected for him by soothsayers. The totem kins may classify all things, in sets, each set of things under one totem. But the animal names which are not hereditary or exogamous are not judiciously to be spoken of as "Sex Totems," "Mortuary Totems," "Individual Totems," or "Sub-totems." They are a result of applying totemic ideas to the sexes, to dead men, or to living individuals, or to the universe. Perhaps totemic methods and style were even utilised and adapted when the institution of matrimonial classes was later devised.

[1] The Arunta exception has been explained. Cf. Chapter IV.

[2] Cf. Social Origins, pp. 55—57, in which the author fails to discover any mode by which the distribution could occur accidentally or automatically.

[3] J. A. I., August 1888, p. 40.

[4] Ibid., August 1888, p. 53.

[5] N. W. Thomas, Man, January 1904, No. 2.



Matrimonial classes—Their working described—Prevent persons of successive generations from intermarrying—Child and parent unions forbidden in tribes without matrimonial classes—Obscurity caused by ignorance of philology—Meanings of names of classes usually unknown—Mystic names for common objects—Cases in which meaning of class names is known—They are names of animals—Variations in evidence—Names of classes from the centre to Gulf of Carpentaria—They appear to be Cloud, Eagle Hawk (?), Crow, Kangaroo Rat—Uncertainty of these etymologies—One totem to one totem marriages—Obscurity of evidence—Perhaps the so-called "totems" are matrimonial classes—Meaning of names forgotten—Or names tabued—The classes a deliberately framed institution—Unlike phratries and totem kins—Theory of Herr Cunow—Lack of linguistic evidence for his theory.

The nature of the sets called Matrimonial Classes has already been explained (Chapter I.). In its simplest form, as among the Kamilaroi, who reckon descent in the female line, and among the adjacent tribes to a great distance, there exist, within the phratries, what Mr. Frazer has called "sub-phratries," what Mr. Howitt calls "sub-classes," in our term "matrimonial classes," In these tribes each child is born into its mother's phratry and totem of course, but not into its mother's "sub-phratry," "sub-class," or "matrimonial class." There being two of these divisions in each phratry, the child belongs to that division, in its mother's phratry, which is not its mother's. That a man of class Muri, in Dilbi phratry, marries a woman of class Kumbo, in Kupathin phratry, and their children, keeping to the mother's phratry and totem, belong to the class in Kupathin phratry which is not hers, that is, belong to class Ipai, and so on. Children and parents are never of the same class, and never can intermarry. The class names eternally differentiate each generation from its predecessor, and eternally forbid their intermarriage.

But child-parent intermarriages are just as unlawful, by custom, among primitive tribes like the Barkinji, who have female reckoning of descent, but no matrimonial classes at all. By totem law, among the Barkinji, a man might marry his daughter, who is neither of his phratry nor totem, but he never does. Yet nobody suggests that the Barkinji once had classes and class law, but dropped the classes, while retaining one result of that organisation—no parent and child marriage. The classes are found in Australia only, and tend, in the centre, north, and west, under male descent, to become more numerous and complex, eight classes being usual from the centre to the sea in the north.

One of the chief obstacles to the understanding of the classes and of their origin, is the obscurity which surrounds the meaning of their names, in most cases. Explorers like Messrs. Spencer and Gillen mention no instance in which the natives of Northern and Central Australia could, or at all events would, explain the sense of their class names.

In these circumstances, as in the interpretation of the divine names of Sanskrit and Greek mythology, we naturally turn to comparative philology for a solution of the problem. But, in the case of Greek and Sanskrit divine names, say, Athênê, Dionysus, Artemis, Indra, Poseidon, comparative philology almost entirely failed. Each scholar found an "equation," an interpretation, which satisfied himself, but was disputed by his brethren. The divine names, with a rare exception or two, remained impenetrably obscure.

If this was the state of things when divine names of peoples with a copious written literature were concerned; if scholars armed with "the weapons of precision" of philological science were baffled; it is easy to see how perilous is the task of interpreting the class names of Australian savages. Their dialects, leaving no written monuments, have manifestly fluctuated under the operation of laws of change, and these laws have been codified by no Grimm.

As a science, Australian philology does not exist. In 1880 Mr. Fison wrote, "It is simply impossible to ascertain the exact meaning of these words" (changes of name and grade conferred at secret ceremonies), "without a very full knowledge of the native dialects," and without strong personal influence with the blacks.... "In all probability there are not half-a-dozen men so qualified in the whole Australian continent."[1]

The habit of using, in the case of the initiate, mystic terms even for the everyday names of animals, greatly complicates the problem. It does not appear that most of the recorders of the facts know even one native dialect as Dr. Walter Roth knows some dialects of North-West Central Queensland. In the south-east, Kamilaroi was seriously studied, long ago, by Mr. Threlkeld and Mr. Ridley, who wrote tracts in that language. Sir George Grey and Mr. Matthews, with many others, have compiled vocabularies, the result of studies of their own, and Mr. Curr collected brief glossaries of very many tribes, by aid of correspondents without linguistic training.

Into this ignorance as to the meanings of the names of matrimonial classes, Mr. Howitt brings a faint little gleam of light In a few cases, he thinks, the meaning of class and "sub-class" names is ascertained. Among the Kuinmurbura tribe, between Broad Sound and Shoal water Bay, the "sub-classes" (our "matrimonial classes") "were totems." By this Mr. Howitt obviously means that the classes bore animal names. They meant (i.) the Barrimundi, (ii.) a Hawk, (iii.) Good Water, and (iv.) Iguana.[2] For the Annan River tribe, he gives "sub-classes" (our "matrimonial classes"), (i.) Eagle Hawk, (ii.) Bee, (iii.) Salt-Water-Eagle Hawk, (iv.) Bee.[3] This is not very satisfactory. In previous works he gave so many animal names for his "sub-classes," Mr. Frazer's "sub-phratries" (our "matrimonial classes"), that Mr. Frazer wrote, "It seems to follow that the sub-phratries of the Kamilaroi (Muri, Kubi, Ipai, and Kumbo) have, or once had, totems also," that is, had names derived from animals or other objects.[4]

Mr. Howitt himself at one time appeared to hold that the names of the matrimonial classes are often animal names. His phraseology here is not very lucid. "The main sections themselves are frequently, probably always, distinguished by totems." Here he certainly means that the phratries have usually animal names, though we are not told that the phratries, as such, treat their name-giving animal, even when they know the meaning of its name, "with the decencies of a totem." Mr. Howitt goes on, "The probability is that they are all" (that all the classes are) "totems."[5] By this Mr. Howitt perhaps intends to say that all the "classes" (both the phratries and the matrimonial classes) probably have animal or other such names.

Again, the class names of the Kiabara tribe were said to denote four animals—Turtle, Bat, Carpet Snake, Cat.[6] But now (1904) the Kiabara class names are given without translation, and the four animals are thrown into the list of totems, with Flood Water and Lightning totems (which names were previously given as translations of Kubatine and Dilebi, the phratry names).[7] Doubtless Mr. Howitt has received more recent information, but, if we accept what he now gives us, the meanings of his "sub-class" names are only ascertained in the cases of two tribes, and then are names of animals.

I spent some labour in examining the class names of the tribes studied by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, from the Arunta in the centre to the Tingilli at Powell's Creek, after which point our authors no longer marched due north, but turned east, at a right angle, reaching the sea, and the Binbinga, the Mara, and Anula coast tribes, on or near the MacArthur River. The class names of these coastal tribes did not resemble those of the central tribes. But if Messrs. Spencer and Gillen had held north by west, in place of turning due east from Newcastle Waters, they would have found, as far as the sea at Nichol Bay, four classes whose names closely resemble the class names of the central tribes, and are reported as Paljarie, or Paliali, or Palyeery (clearly the Umbaia and Binbinga Paliarinji), Kimera or Kymurra, (obviously Kumara), Banigher, or Bunaka, or Panaka (Panunga, cf. Dieri Kanunka = Bush Wallaby),[8] and Boorungo, or Paronga.[9]

It thus appears scarcely doubtful that, from the Arunta in the centre, to the furthest north, several of the class names are of the same linguistic origin, and—whether by original community of speech, or by dint of borrowing—had once the same significance. Now we can show that some of these names, in the dialects of one tribe or another, denote objects in nature. Thus Warramunga Tj-upila' (Tj being an affix) at least suggests the Dieri totem, Upala, "Cloud." Biliarinthu, in the same way, suggests the Barinji Biliari, "Eagle Hawk," or the Umbaia Paliarinji. Ungalla, or Thungalla, is Arunta Ungilla, "Crow," the Ungōla, or Ungăla, "Crow" of the Yaroinga and Undekerabina of North-West Queensland,[10] while Panunga, Banaka, Panaka, resembles Dieri Kanunka—"Bush Wallaby," or Kanunga, "Kangaroo Rat."

The process of picking out animal names in one tribe corresponding to class names in other tribes, is not so utterly unscientific as it may seem, for the tribes have either borrowed the names from each other, or have a common basis of language, and some forms of dialectical change are obvious. We lay no stress on the "equations" given above, but merely offer the suggestion that class names have often been animal names, and hint that inquiry should keep this idea in mind.

I do not, then, offer my "equations" as more than guesses in a field peculiarly perilous. The word which means "fire" in one tribe, means "snake" in another. "What fools these fellows are, they call 'fire' 'snakes,'" say the tribesmen. However, if we guess right, we find Eagle Hawk, Crow, Cloud, and Kangaroo Rat, as class names, over an enormous extent of Central and Northern Australia.[11]

About the deliberate purpose of the classes there can be no doubt. They were introduced to bar marriages, not between parents and children, for these are forbidden in primitive tribes, but between persons of the parental and filial generations. Or the names were given to stereotype classes, already existing, but hitherto anonymous, within which marriage was already prohibited. To make the distinction permanent, it was only necessary to have a linked pair of classes of different names in each phratry, the child never taking the maternal class name, but always that of the linked class in her phratry (under a system of female descent). The names Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, would have served the turn as well as any others. If a tribe had two words for young, and two for old, these would have served the turn; as





Meanwhile, in our linguistic darkness, we are only informed with assurance that, in two cases, the class names denote animals, while we guess that this may have been so more generally.

According to Mr. Howitt, "in such tribes as the Urabunna, a man, say, of class" (phratry) A, is restricted to women of certain totems, or rather "his totem inter-marries only with certain totems of the other class" (phratry).[12] But neither in their first nor second volume do Messrs. Spencer and Gillen give definite information on this obscure point. They think that it "appears to be the case" that, among the northern Urabunna, "men of one totem can only marry women of another special totem."[13] This would seem prima facie to be an almost impossible and perfectly meaningless restriction on marriage. Among tribes so very communicative as the dusky friends of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, it is curious that definite information on the facts cannot be obtained.

Mr. Howitt, however, adds that "one totem to one totem" marriage is common in many tribes with phratries but without matrimonial classes.[14] Among these are some tribes of the Mukwara-Kilpara phratry names. Now this rule is equivalent in bearing to the rule of the phratries, it is a dichotomous division. But the phratries contain many totems; the rule here described limits marriage to one totem kin with one totem kin, in each phratry. What can be the origin, sense, and purpose of this, unless the animal-named divisions in the phratry called "totems" by our informants, are really not totem kins but "sub-phratries" of animal name, each sub-phratry containing several totems? This was Mr. Frazer's theory, based on such facts or statements as were accessible in 1887.[15] There might conceivably be, in some tribes, four phratries, or more, submerged, and, as bearing animal names, these might be mistaken by our informants for mere totem kins. With development of social law, such animal-named sub-phratries might be utilised for the mechanism of the matrimonial classes. In many tribes the meaning of their names, like the meaning of too many phratry names, might be forgotten with efflux of time.

Or again, when classes were instituted, four then existing totem names—two for each phratry—might be tabued or reserved, and made to act exclusively as class names, while new names might be given to the actual animals, or other objects, which were god-parents to the totem kins. Such tabus and substitutions of names are authenticated in other cases among savages. Thus Dr. Augustine Henry, F.L.S., tells me that, among the Lolos of Yunnan, he observed the existence of kinships, each of one name. It is not usual to marry within the name; the prohibition exists, but is decadent If a person wishes to know the kin-name of a stranger, he asks: "What is it that you do not touch?" The reply is "Orange" or "Monkey," or the like; but the name is not that applied to orange or monkey in everyday life. It is an archaic word of the same significance, used only in this connection with the tabued name-giving object of the kin. The names of the Australian matrimonial classes appear to be tabued or archaic names of animals and other objects, as we have shown that some phratry names also are.

For practical purposes, as we have shown, any four different class-titles would serve the turn, but pre-existing law, in phratries and totems, had mainly, for the reasons already offered, used animal and plant names, and the custom was, perhaps, kept up in giving such names to the new classes of seniority. Beyond these suggestions we dare not go, in the present state of our information.

The matrimonial classes are a distinct, deliberately imposed institution.

In this respect they seem to differ from the phratry and totem names, which, as we have tried to show, are things of long and unconscious evolution. But conscious purpose is evident in the institution of matrimonial classes. We tentatively suggest that, if their names turn out to be usually names of animals and other objects, this occurs because animal-named sub-phratries once existed, and were converted into the mechanism of the classes; or because the pre-existing totemic system of nomenclature was preserved in the development of a new institution. Herr Cunow's theory that the class names mean "Young," "Old," "Big," "Little" (Kubbi = Kubbura, "young"; Kunibo = Kombia, Kumbia, Gumboka, "great or old"), needs a wide and assured etymological basis.[16] Dr. Durkheim's hypothesis appears to assume that "clans," exogamous, with female descent, are territorial, which (see Chapter V.) is not possible.

Whatever their names may mean, the matrimonial classes were instituted to prevent marriage between persons of parental and filial generations.

[1] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, pp. 59, 60.

[2] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. III.

[3] Ibid., p. 118.

[4] Totemism, p. 84. Cf. Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 41.

[5] J. A. I., 1885, p. 143. Cf. Note 4.

[6] J. A. I., xiii. pp. 336, 341.

[7] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 116.

[8] J. A. I., August 1890, p. 38.

[9] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 36. J. A. I., ix. pp. 356, 357. Curr, i. p. 298. Austral. Assoc. Adv. Science, ii. pp. 653. 654. Journal Roy. Soc. N.S.W. vol. xxxii. p. 86. R. H. Matthews.

[10] Roth, p. 50.

[11] Mr. N. W. Thomas helped the chase of these names, without claiming any certainty for the "equations."

[12] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 176. Citing Spencer and Gillen, p. 60.

[13] Northern Tribes of Central Australia, p. 71, Note 2.

[14] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 189-194.

[15] Totemism, pp. 64-67.

[16] Die Verwandschafts Organisationen der Australneger. Stuttgart, 1894.



Mr. Frazer's latest theory—Closely akin to that of Professor Spencer—Arunta totemism the most archaic—Proof of Arunta primitiveness—Their ignorance of the facts of procreation—But the more primitive south-eastern tribes are not ignorant of the facts—Proof from Mr. Howitt—Yet south-eastern tribes are subject to Mr. Frazer's supposed causes of ignorance—Mr. Frazer's new theory cited—No account taken of primitive tribes of the southern interior—Similar oversight by Mr. Howitt as regards religion—Examples of this oversight—Social advance does not explain the religion of tribes which have not made the social advance—Theory of borrowing needed by Mr. Howitt—Mr. Frazer's suggestion as to the origin of exogamy—Objections to the suggestion.

Throughout these chapters, when there was occasion to mention the totemic theories of Mr. J. G. Frazer, we have spoken of them with reserve, as the theory of this or that date. Fortunately his article, "The Beginnings of Religion and Totemism among the Australian Aborigines," in the Fortnightly Review (September 1905), enables us to report Mr. Frazer's latest, perhaps final, hypothesis. "After years of sounding," he says, "our plummets seem to touch bottom at last."

In essence Mr. Frazer's latest hypothesis is that of Professor Baldwin Spencer. He accepts Pirrauru as "group marriage," and holds that the Arunta retain the most archaic form of totemism now known to exist. In Chapter III. we believe ourselves to have proved that Pirrauru is not "group marriage"; and that the "classificatory names for relationships "do not demonstrate the existence of "group marriage" in the relatively near, or of promiscuity in the very distant past.

In Chapter IV. we show that, by Professor Spencer's statement, the Arunta are in a highly advanced social state for Australians. Inheritance of local office (Alatunjaship) and of the paternal totemic ritual goes in the male, not in the female line of descent, which is confessedly the more archaic. (Mr. Frazer, however, now thinks this point open to doubt.) The institutions are of a local character; and the ceremonials are of what Professor Spencer considers the later and much more complex type. Arunta totemism, Mr. Spencer shows, depends on the idea of ancestral spirits attached to stone churinga nanja, amulets of various forms usually inscribed with archaic patterns, and these churinga nanja, with this belief about them, are not found outside of the Arunta region. Without them, the Arunta system of totemism does not, and apparently cannot exist On this head Mr. Frazer says nothing. For these and many other reasons, most of which have been urged by Dr. Durkheim, Mr. Hartland, Mr. Marett, and other students, we have explained the Arunta system as a late, isolated, and apparently unique institution. As the Arunta ceremonials and institutions, with inheritance in the male line and local magistracies hereditable in the male line, are at the opposite pole from the primitive, while the Arunta totemic system reposes on an isolated superstition connected with manufactured stone objects, and not elsewhere found in Australia, it has seemed vain to regard Arunta totemism as the most archaic.

This, however, is the present hypothesis of Mr. Frazer, as of Mr. Spencer, and he adduces a proof of Arunta primitiveness concerning which too little was said in our Chapter IV. The Arunta system "ignores altogether the intercourse of the sexes as the cause of offspring; and further, it ignores the tie of blood on the maternal as well as the paternal side."[1] The theory "denies implicitly, and the natives themselves deny explicitly, that children are the fruit of the commerce of the sexes. So astounding an ignorance of natural causation cannot but date from a past immeasurably remote."[2]

Now when the Arunta "ignore the tie of blood on the maternal side," they prove too much. They ignore that of which they are not ignorant. Not being idiots, they are well aware of the maternal tie of blood; but they do not permit it to affect the descent of the totem, which is regulated by their isolated superstition, the doctrine of reincarnation combined with the churinga nanja belief. Nor do they ignore fatherhood, as we saw, in affairs of inheritance of local office and totemic rites.

But they do deny that the intercourse of the sexes is the cause of birth of children. Here the interesting point is that tribes much more primitive, the south-eastern tribes, with female reckoning of descent, inheritance in the female line, and no hereditary local moderatorships, are perfectly well aware of all that the more advanced Arunta do not know. Yet they, quite as much as the Arunta, are subject to the causes which, according to Mr. Frazer, produce the Arunta nescience of the facts of procreation. That nescience, says Mr. Frazer, "may be explained easily enough from the habits and modes of thought of savage men." Thus, "first, the sexual act precedes the first symptoms of pregnancy by a considerable interval." Je n'en vois pas la nécessité. Secondly, savage tribes "allow unrestricted licence of intercourse between the sexes under puberty," and thus "familiarise him" (the savage) "with sexual unions that are necessarily sterile; from which he may not unnaturally conclude that the intercourse of the sexes has nothing to do with the birth of offspring." The savage, therefore, explains the arrival of children (at least the Arunta does) by the entrance of a discarnate ancestral spirit into the woman.

The conspicuous and closing objection to this theory is, that savages who are at least as familiar as the Arunta with (1) the alleged remoteness in time of the sexual act from the appearance of the first symptoms of pregnancy (among them, such an act and the symptoms may be synchronous), and (2) with licence before puberty, are not in the Arunta state of ignorance. They are under no illusions on these interesting points.

The tribes of social organisation much more primitive than that of the Arunta, the south-eastern tribes, as a rule, know all about the matter. Mr. Howitt says, "these" (south-eastern) "aborigines, even while counting descent—that is, counting the class names—through the mother, never for a moment feel any doubt, according to my experience, that the children originate solely from the male parent, and only owe their infantine nurture to their mother."[3] Mr. Howitt also quotes "the remark made to me in several cases, that a woman is only a nurse who takes care of a man's children for him."[4]

Here, then, we have very low savages among whom the causes of savage ignorance of procreation, as explained by Mr. Frazer, are present, but who, far from being ignorant, take the line of Athene in the Eumenides of Æschylus. I give Mr. Raley's translation of the passage:—

"The parent of that which is called her child is not really the mother of it, she is but the nurse of the newly conceived fœtus. It is the male who is the author of its being, while she, as a stranger for a stranger (i.e. no blood relation), preserves the young plant...."—Eumenides, 628-631.

These south-eastern tribes, far more primitive than the Arunta in their ceremonials, and in their social organisation, do not entertain that dominant factor in Aruntadom, the belief in the perpetual reincarnation of the souls of the mythical ancestors of the Alcheringa. That belief is a philosophy far from primitive. As each child is, in Arunta opinion, a being who has existed from the beginning of things, he is not, he cannot be, a creature of man's begetting. Sexual acts, say Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, only, at most, "prepare" a woman for the reception of a child—who is as old as the world! If the Arunta were experimental philosophers, and locked a girl up in Danae's tower, so that she was never "prepared," they would, perhaps, be surprised if she gave birth to a child.

However that may be, the Arunta nescience about reproduction is not caused by the facts which, according to Mr. Frazer, are common to them with other savages. These facts produce no nescience among the more primitive tribes with female descent, simply because these primitive tribes do not share the far from primitive Arunta philosophy of eternal reincarnation. If the Arunta deny the fact of procreation among the lower animals, that is because "the man and his totem are practically indistinguishable," as Mr. Frazer says. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

The proof of Arunta primitiveness, the only proof, has been their nescience of the facts of generation. But we have demonstrated that, where Mr. Frazer's alleged causes of that nescience are present, among the south-eastern tribes, they do not produce it; while among the Arunta, it is caused by their system of philosophy, which the south-eastern tribes do not possess.

Mr. Frazer next applies his idea to the evolution of a new theory of the Origin of Totemism. Among the Arunta, as we know, each region has its local centre of totemic spirits awaiting reincarnation, one totem for each region. These centres, Oknanikilla, are, in myth, and for all that I know, in fact, burial-places of the primal ancestors, and in each is one, or there may be more, Nanja trees or rocks, permanently haunted by ancestral spirits, all of the same totem, whose stone amulets, churinga nanja, are lying in or on the ground. When a woman feels a living child's part in her being, she knows that it is a spirit of an ancestor of the local totem, haunting the Nanja, and that totem is allotted to the child when born.

Mr. Frazer from these known facts, deduces thus his new theory of the Origin of Totemism. It is best to give it in his own words:[5]

"Naturally enough, when she is first aware of the mysterious movement within her, the mother fancies that something has that very moment passed into her body, and it is equally natural that in her attempt to ascertain what the thing is she should fix upon some object that happened to be near her and to engage her attention at the critical moment. Thus if she chanced at the time to be watching a kangaroo, or collecting grass-seed for food, or bathing in water, or sitting under a gum-tree, she might imagine that the spirit of a kangaroo, of grass-seed, of water, or of a gum-tree, had passed into her, and accordingly, that when her child was born, it was really a kangaroo, a grass-seed, water, or a gum-tree, though to the bodily eye it presented the outward form of a human being. Amongst the objects on which her fancy might pitch as the cause of her pregnancy we may suppose that the last food she had eaten would often be one. If she had recently partaken of emu flesh or yams she might suppose that the emu or yam, which she had unquestionably taken into her body, had, so to say, struck root and grown up in her. This last, as perhaps the most natural, might be the commonest explanation of pregnancy; and if that was so, we can understand why, among the Central Australian tribes, if not among totemic tribes all over the world, the great majority of totems are edible objects, whether animals or plants.[6] Now, too, we can fully comprehend why people should identify themselves, as totemic tribes commonly do, with their totems, to such an extent as to regard the man and his totem as practically indistinguishable. A man of the emu totem, for example, might say, 'An emu entered into my mother at such and such a place and time; it grew up in her, and came forth from her. I am that emu, therefore I am an emu man. I am practically the same as the bird, though to you, perhaps, I may not look like it.' And so with all the other totems. On such a view it is perfectly natural that a man, deeming himself one of his totem species, should regard it with respect and affection, and that he should imagine himself possessed of a power, such as men of other totems do not possess, to increase or diminish it, according to circumstances, for the good of himself and his fellows. Thus the practice of Intichiuma, that is, magical ceremonies, performed by men of a totem for its increase or diminution, would be a natural development of the original germ or stock of totemism.[7] That germ or stock, if my conjecture is right, is, in its essence, nothing more or less than an early theory of conception, which presented itself to savage man at a time when he was still ignorant of the true cause of the propagation of the species. This theory of conception is, on the principles of savage thought, so simple and obvious that it may well have occurred to men independently in many parts of the world. Thus we could understand the wide prevalence of totemism among distant races without being forced to suppose that they had borrowed it from each other. Further, the hypothesis accounts for one of the most characteristic features of totemism, namely, the intermingling in the same community of men and women of many different totem stocks. For each person's totem would be determined by what may be called an accident, that is, by the place where his mother happened to be, the occupation in which she was engaged, or the last food she had eaten at the time when she first felt the child in her womb; and such accidents (and with them the totems) would vary considerably in individual cases, though the range of variation would necessarily be limited by the number of objects open to the observation, or conceivable by the imagination, of the tribe. These objects would be chiefly the natural features of the district, and the kinds of food on which the community subsisted; but they might quite well include artificial and even imaginary objects, such as boomerangs and mythical beasts. Even a totem like Laughing Boys, which we find among the Arunta, is perfectly intelligible on the present theory. In fact, of all the things which the savage perceives or imagines, there is none which he might not thus convert into a totem, since there is none which might not chance to impress itself on the mind of the mother, waking or dreaming, at the critical season.

"If we may hypothetically assume, as the first stage in the evolution of totemism, a system like the foregoing, based on a primitive theory of conception, the whole history of totemism becomes intelligible. For in the first place, the existing system of totemism among the Arunta and Kaitish, which combines the principle of conception with that of locality, could be derived from this hypothetical system in the simplest and easiest manner, as I shall point out immediately. And in the second place, the existing system of the Arunta and Kaitish could, in its turn, readily pass into hereditary totemism of the ordinary type, as in fact it appears to be doing in the Umbaia and Nani tribes of Central Australia at present. Thus what may be called conceptional totemism pure and simple furnishes an intelligible starting-point for the evolution of totemism in general. In it, after years of sounding, our plummets seem to touch bottom at last."

How the totemic spirits became localised, is, Mr. Frazer says, "matter of conjecture," and he guesses that, after several women had felt the first recognised signs of maternity, "in the same place, and under the same circumstances "—for example, at the moment of seeing a Witchetty Grub, or a Laughing Boy—the site would become an Oknanikilla haunted by spirits of the Laughing Boy or Grub totem.[8] The Arunta view is different; these places are burial-grounds of men all of this or that totem, who have left their churinga nanja there. About these essential parts of the system, Mr. Frazer, as has been observed, says nothing. His theory I do not criticise, as I have already stated my objection to his premises. "The ultimate origin of exogamy ..." he says, "remains a problem nearly as dark as ever," but is a matter of deliberate institution. The tribes, already totemic, but not exogamous, were divided into the two exogamous phratries, and still later into the matrimonial classes, which the most pristine tribes do not possess, though they do know about procreation, while the more advanced Arunta, with classes and loss of phratry names, do not know. In the primitive tribes, with no churinga nanja, the totems became hereditary. Among the advanced Arunta, with churinga nanja, the totems did not (like all other things, including the right to work the paternal totemic ritual), become hereditary, though their rites did, which is curious. Consequently, Mr. Frazer suggests, the Arunta did not redistribute the totems so that one totem never occurs in both exogamous phratries; and totems in the region of churinga nanja alone are not exogamous.

Finally the tribes of Central Australia, which we prove to have the more advanced ceremonial, system of inheritance, local magistracies hereditary in the male line, and the matrimonial classes which Mr. Frazer proclaims to be later than the mere phratries of many south-eastern tribes—"are the more backward, and the coastal tribes the more progressive."[9]

This is a very hard saying!

It seems to rest either on Mr. Frazer's opinion that the south tribes of Queensland, and many on the Upper Murray, Paroo, and Barwan rivers are "coastal" ("which is absurd"), or on a failure to take them into account. For these tribes, the Barkinji, Ta-Ta-Thai, Barinji, and the rest, are the least progressive, and "coastal," of course, they are not.

This apparent failure to take into account the most primitive of all the tribes, those on the Murray, Paroo, Darling, Barwan, and other rivers, and to overlook even the more advanced Kamilaroi, is exhibited by Mr. Howitt, whose example Mr. Frazer copies, in the question of Australian religious beliefs.

I quote a passage from Mr. Howitt, which Mr. Frazer re-states in his own words. He defines "the part of Australia in which a belief exists in an anthropomorphic supernatural being, who lives in the sky, and who is supposed to have some kind of influence on the morals of the natives ... That part of Australia which I have indicated as the habitat of tribes having that belief" (namely, 'certainly the whole of Victoria and of New South Wales up to the eastern boundaries of the tribes of the Darling River') "is also the area where there has been the advance from group marriage to individual marriage, from descent in the female line to that in the male line; where the primitive organisation under the class system has been more or less replaced by an organisation based on locality—in fact, where those advances have been made to which I have more than once drawn attention in this work."[10]

This is an unexpected remark!

Mr. Howitt, in fact, has produced all his examples of tribes with descent in the female line, except the Dieri and Urabunna "nations," from the district which he calls "the habitat of tribes in which there has been advance ... from descent in the female to that in the male line." Apparently all, and certainly most of the south-eastern tribes described by him who have not made that advance, cherish the belief in the sky-dwelling All Father.

I give examples:—

NarrinyeriMale descent.All Father.
WiimbaioFemale descent." "
Wotjobaluk" "" "
WoeworungMale descent." "
Kulin" "" "
Kurnai" "" "
WiradjuriFemale descent." "
Wathi Wathi" "" "
Ta-Ta-Thi" "" "
Kamilaroi" "" "
YuinMale descent." "
NgarigoFemale descent." "

About other tribes Mr. Howitt's information is rather vague, but, thanks to Mrs. Langloh Parker, we can add:—

Euahlayi — Female descent — All Father.

Here, then, we have eight tribes with female descent and the All Father, against five tribes with male descent and the All Father, in the area to which Mr. Howitt assigns "the advance from descent in the female line to that in the male line." The tribes with female descent occupy much the greater part of the southern interior, not of the coastal line, of South-East Australia.

Mr. Frazer puts the case thus, "it can hardly be an accidental coincidence that, as Dr. Howitt has well pointed out, the same regions in which the germs of religion begin to appear have also made some progress towards a higher form of social and family life."[11]

But though Dr. Howitt has certainly "pointed it out," his statement seems in collision with his own evidence as to the facts. The tribes with female descent and the "germs of religion" occupy the greater part of the area in which he finds "the advance from descent in the female line to that in the male line." He does find that advance, with belief in the All Father, in some tribes, mainly coastal, of his area, but he also finds the belief in the All Father among "nations" and tribes which have not made the "advance"—in the interior. As the northern tribes who have made the "advance" are mainly credited with no All Father, it is clear that the "advance" in social and family life has no connection with the All Father belief. Mr. Howitt, in saying so, overlooks his own collection of evidence. Large tribes and nations, in the region described by him, are in that social organisation which he justly regards as the least advanced of all, yet they have the "germs of religion," which he explains as the results of a social progress which they have not made.

In these circumstances Mr. Howitt might perhaps adopt a large theory of borrowing. The primitive south-east tribes have not borrowed from the remote coastal tribes the usage of male descent; they have not borrowed matrimonial classes from the Kamilaroi. But, nevertheless, they have borrowed, it may be said, their religion from remote coastal tribes. Of course, it is just as easy to guess that the coastal tribes have borrowed their Bunjil All Father from the Kamilaroi Baiame, or the Mulkari of Queensland.

I have not commented on Mr. Frazer's suggestion as to the origin of exogamy. It was the result, he thinks, of a deliberate reformation, and its earliest form was the division of the tribe into the two phratries. "Exogamy was introduced ... at first to prevent the marriage of brothers with sisters, and afterwards" (in the matrimonial classes) "to prevent the marriage of parents with children."[12] The motive was probably a superstitious fear that such close unions would be harmful, in some way, "to the persons immediately concerned," according to "a savage superstition to which we have lost the clue." I made the same suggestion in Custom and Myth (1884). I added, however, that totemic exogamy might be only one aspect of the general totem tabu on eating, killing, or touching, &c., an object of the totem name. We seem to have found the clue to that superstition, including the blood tabu, emphasised by Dr. Durkheim. But, on this showing, the animal patrons of phratries and totem kins, with their "religion," are among the causes of exogamy, while some unknown superstition, in Mr. Frazer's system, may have been the cause. As we have a known superstition, of origin already explained, it seems unnecessary to suppose an unknown superstition.

Again, if the reformers knew who were brothers and sisters, how can they have been promiscuous? Further, the phratriac prohibition includes vast numbers of persons who are not brothers and sisters, except in the phratry. Sires could prohibit unions of brothers and sisters, each in his own hearth circle; the phratriac prohibition is much more sweeping, so is the matrimonial class prohibition. Once more, parent with child unions do not occur among primitive tribes which have no matrimonial classes at all.

For these reasons Mr. Frazer's system does not recommend itself at least to persons who cherish a different theory.

He may, perhaps, explain the Kaitish usage, in which totems, though not hereditary but acquired in the Arunta manner, remain practically exogamous, by suggesting that the Kaitish are imitating the totemic exogamy of the rest of the savage world. But this hardly accounts for the fact that, among the Arunta, certain totems greatly preponderate in one, and another set of totems in the other exogamous moiety of the tribe. These facts indicate that the Arunta system is relatively recent, and has not yet overcome among the Kaitish the old rule of totemic exogamy. Mr. Frazer, too, as has been said, does not touch on the concomitance of stone churinga nanja with the Arunta system of acquiring totems.

[1] Fortnightly Review, September 1905, p. 453.

[2] Fortnightly Review, p. 455; cf. Spencer and Gillen, N. T. C. A., pp. 124 seq., p. 265.

[3] Journal Anthrop. Institute, p. 502 (1882).

[4] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 283, 284.

[5] Fortnightly Review, pp. 455-458.

[6] As to the Central Australian totems, see Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes of Central Australia, Appendix B, pp. 767-773. Amongst the two hundred and one sorts of totems here enumerated, no less than a hundred and sixty-nine or a hundred and seventy are eaten.

[7] When some years ago these Intichiuma ceremonies were first discovered on a great scale among the Central Australians, I was so struck by the importance of the discovery that I was inclined to see in these ceremonies the ultimate origin of totemism; and the discoverers themselves, Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, were disposed to take the same view. See Baldwin Spencer, F. J. Gillen, and J. G. Frazer, in Journal of the Anthropological Institute, xxviii. (1899), pp. 275-286; J. G. Frazer, "The Origin of Totemism," Fortnightly Review, April and May, 1899. Further reflection has led me to the conclusion that magical ceremonies for the increase or diminution of the totems are likely to be a later, though still very early, outgrowth of totemism rather than its original root. At the present time these magical ceremonies seem to constitute the main function of totemism in Central Australia. But this does not prove that they have done so from the beginning.

[8] Fortnightly Review, p. 458.

[9] Fortnightly Review, p. 463.

[10] Howitt, Native Races of South-East Australia, p. 500.

[11] Fortnightly Review, p. 452.

[12] Fortnightly Review, p. 6l.



With some American theories of the origin of totemism, I find it extremely difficult to deal. They ought not to be neglected, that were disrespectful to the valued labours of the school of the American "Bureau of Ethnology." But the expositions are scattered in numerous Reports, and are scarcely focussed with distinctness. Again, the terminology of American inquirers, the technical words which they use, differ from those which we employ. That fact would be unimportant if they employed their technical terms consistently. Unluckily this is not their practice. The terms "clan," "gens," and "phratry" are by them used with bewildering inconsistency, and are often interchangeable. When "clan" or gens, means, now (i) a collection of gentes, or (2) of families, or (3) of phratries, and again (4) "clan" means a totem kin with female descent; and again (5) a village community; while a phratry may be (1) an exogamous moiety of a tribe, or (2) a "family," or (3) a magical society; and a gens may be (1) a clan, or (2) a "family," or (3) an aggregate of families, or (4) a totem kin with male descent, or (5) a magical society, while "tribal" and "sub-tribal divisions" are vaguely spoken of—the European student is apt to be puzzled! All these varieties of terminology occur too frequently in the otherwise most praiseworthy works of some of the American School of Anthropologists. I had collected the examples, but to give them at length would occupy considerable space, and the facts are only too apparent to every reader.[1]

Once more, and this point is of essential importance, the recent writers on totemism in America dwell mainly on the institution as found among the tribes of the north-west coast of the States and of British Columbia. These tribes are so advanced in material civilisation that they dwell in village settlements. They have a system of credit which looks like a satirical parody of the credit system of the civilised world. In some tribes there is a regular organisation by ranks, noblesse depending on ancestral wealth.

It seems sanguine to look for the origins of totemism among tribes so advanced in material culture. The origin of totemism lies far behind the lowest savagery of Australia. It is found in a more primitive form among the southern and eastern than in most of the north-western American tribes, but the north-western are chiefly studied, for example, by Mr. Hill-Tout, and by Dr. Boas. A new difficulty is caused by the alleged intermixture of tribes in very different states of social organisation. That intermixture, if I understand Mr. Hill-Tout, causes some borrowing of institutions among tribes of different languages, and different degrees of culture, in the west of British Columbia and the adjacent territories. We find, in the north, the primitive Australian type of organisation (Thlinket tribe), with phratries, totems, and descent in the female line. South of these are the Kwakiutl, with descent wavering in a curious fashion between the male and female systems. Further south are the Salish tribes, who have evolved something like the modern family, reckoning on both sides of the house. I, with Mr. McGee of the United States Bureau of Ethnology, suppose the Kwakiutl to be moving from the female to the male line of descent. In the opinions of Mr. Hill-Tout and Dr. Boas, they are moving from the advanced Salish to the primitive Thlinket system, under the influence of their primitive neighbours. It is not for me to decide this question. But it is unprecedented to find tribes with male reverting to female reckoning of descent

Next, Mr. Hill-Tout employs "totem" in various senses. As totems he reckons (1) the sacred animals of the tribe; (2) of the religious or magical societies (containing persons of many totems of descent); (3) of the individual and (4) the hereditary totems of the kin. All these, our author says, are, by their original concept, Guardian Spirits. All such protective animals, plants, or other objects, which patronise and give names to individuals, or kins, or tribes, or societies, are "totems," in the opinion of the late Major Powell, and the "American School," and are essentially "guardian spirits." All are derived by the American theory[2] from the manitu, or guardian, of some individual to whom the animal or other object has been revealed in an inspired dream or otherwise. The object became hereditary in the family of that man, descended to his offspring, or, in early societies with reckoning in the female line, to the offspring of his sisters (this is Mr. Hill-Tout's theory), and so became the hereditary totem of a kin, while men of various totem kins unite in religious societies with society "totems" suggested by dreams. These communities may or may not be exogamous, they may even be endogamous. By the friends of this theory the association of exogamy with hereditary kin-totemism is regarded as "accidental," rather than essential.

Using the word "totem" in this wide sense, or in these many senses, which are not ours, it is plain that a man and woman who chance to have the same "personal totem," (i) or belong to the same religious society with its "totem," (i) or to the same local tribe with its "totem," (3) may marry, and, by this way of looking at the matter, "totems" do permit marriage within the totem, and are not exogamous. But we, for our part (like Mr. E. B. Tylor, and M. Van Gennep[3]), call none of these personal, tribal, or society sacred animals "totems." That term we reserve for the hereditary totem of the exogamous kin. Thus it is not easy, it is almost impossible, for us to argue with Mr. Hill-Tout, as we and he use the term "totem" in utterly different senses.

On his theory there are all sorts of "totems," belonging to individuals and to various kinds of associations. The totems hereditary in the kins when they are exogamous, are exogamous (on Mr. Hill-Tout's theory) because the kins, in certain cases, made a treaty of alliance and intermarriage with other kins for purely political purposes. They might have made such treaties, and become exogamous, though they had no totems, no name-giving animals; and they might have had name-giving animals, and yet not made such treaties involving exogamy. Thus totemic exogamy is, on this theory, a mere accident: the totem has nothing to do with the exogamous rule.

Mr. Hill-Tout writes to me, "The totem groups are exogamous not because of their common totem, but because of blood relationship. It is the blood-tie[4] that bans marriage within the totem group, not the common totem. That exogamy and the totem group with female descent go together is accidental, and follows from the fact that the totem group is always, in Indian theory at least, blood related. Where I believe you err is in regarding exogamy as the essential feature of totemism. I cannot so regard it. To me it is secondary, and becomes the bar to marriage only because it marks kinship by blood, which is the real bar, however it may have arisen, and from whatever causes."

Here I am obliged to differ from Mr. Hill-Tout. I know no instance in which a tribe with female kin (the most primitive confessedly), and with hereditary totems, is not exogamous. Exogamy, then, if an accident, must be called an inseparable accident of totemism, with female descent, till cases to the contrary are proved to exist. Mr. Hill-Tout cites the Arunta case: totems among the Arunta are not exogamous. But of that argument we have disposed (see Chapter IV.), and it need no longer trouble us.

Again, it is not possible to agree with Mr. Hill-Tout when he writes, "It is the blood-tie that bars marriage within the totem group, not the common totem." The totem does not by its law prevent marriages of blood kin. A man, as far as totem law goes, may marry his daughter by blood, a brother may marry his sister on the father's side (with female descent), and a man may not marry a woman from a thousand miles away if she is of his totem, though she is not of his blood. It is not the real blood-tie itself, but the blood-tie as defined and sanctioned by the totem, that is not to be violated by marriage within it.

To return to the theory that totems are tutelary spirits in animal or other natural forms. A man may have a spirit guardian in animal form, that is his "totem," on the theory. He may transmit it to his descendants, and then it is their "totem"; or his sisters may adopt it, and hand it down in the female line, and then it is the totem of his nephews and nieces for ever; or the man may not transmit it at all. Usually, it is manifest, he did not transmit it; for there must have been countless species of animal protectors of individuals, but tribes in America have very few totems. If a man does transmit his animal protector, his descendants, lineal or collateral, may become exogamous, on the theory, by making other kins treaties of intermarriage to secure political alliances; or they may not, just as taste or chance direct. All the while, every "totem" of every sort, hereditary or not, is, on this theory, a guardian spirit. That spiritual entity is the essence of totemism, exogamy is an accident—according to Mr. Hill-Tout.

Such is his theory. It is, perhaps, the result of studying the North-West American Sulia, or "personal totem" answering to the nyarongs of Borneo, the naguals of the Southern American tribes, the yunbeai of the Euahlayi of New South Wales, and the "Bush Souls" of West Africa. All of these are, as the Ibans of Borneo imply in the term nyarong, "spirit helpers," in animal or material form. Some tribes call genuine totems by one name, but call animal familiars of an individual by another name. Budjan, among the Wiradjuri, stands both for a man's totem, and for the animal familiar which, rduring apparently hypnotic suggestion," he receives on being initiated.[5] Among the Ibans (but not among the few Australian tribes which have yunbeai), the spirit helper may befriend the great-grandchildren of its original protégé.[6]

But in no case recorded does this nyarong become the hereditary totem of an exogamous kin.

The "spirit helper" does not do that, nor am I aware, on the other hand, that the hereditary totem of an exogamous kin is ever, or anywhere, regarded as a "tutelary spirit." No such idea has ever been found in Australia. Again, if I understand Dr. Boas, among his north-western tribes, such as the Thlinket, who have female descent and hereditary exogamous totems, the totem is no more regarded as a tutelary spirit than it is among the Australians. Of the Kwakiutl he says, "The manitu" (that is, the individual's tutelary spirit) "was acquired by a mythical ancestor, and the connection has become so slight, in many cases, that the tutelary genius of the clan has degenerated into a crest."

That the "crest" or totem mark was originally a "tutelary genius" among the Thlinket, seems to be merely the hypothesis of Dr. Boas. Even among the Kwakiutl, in their transitional state, the totem mark now is "in many cases a crest." "This degeneration" (from spirit to crest), our author writes, "I take to be due to the influence of the northern totemism," such as that of the Thlinket.[7] Thus the Thlinket, totemic on Australian primitive lines, do not regard their hereditary exogamous totems as "tutelary spirits."[8] No more do the Australians, nor the many American totemists who claim descent from the animal which is their totem.[9]

The tutelary spirit and the true totem, in my opinion, are utterly different things. The American theory that all things (their name is legion) called "totems" by the American School are, in origin and essence, tutelary spirits, is thus countered by the fact that the Australian tribes do not regard their hereditary totems as such; nor do many American tribes, even when they are familiar with the idea of the tutelary spirits of individuals. The Euahlayi, in Australia for instance, call tutelary spirits yunbeai; hereditary totems they call by a separate name, Dhe.[10]

The theory that the hereditary totem of the exogamous kin is the "spirit helper" or "tutelary genius," acquired by and transmitted by an actual ancestor, cannot be proved, for many reasons. We know plenty of tribes in which the individual has a "spirit helper," we know none in which he bequeaths it as the totem of an exogamous kin.

Again we find, (1) in Australia, tribes with hereditary totems, but with no "personal totems," as far as our knowledge goes. Whence, then, came Australian hereditary totems? Next, (2) we find tribes with both hereditary and "personal totems," but the "personal totems" are never hereditable. The "spirit helpers," where they do occur in Australia, are either the familiars of wizards (like the witch's cat or hare), or are given by wizards to others.[11] Next, (3) we find, in Africa and elsewhere, tribes with "personal totems," but with no hereditary totems. Why not? For these reasons, the theory that hereditary kin-totems are personal tutelary spirits become hereditary, seems a highly improbable conjecture. If it were right, genuine totemism, with exogamy, might arise in any savage society where "personal totems" flourish. But we never find totemism, with exogamy, just coming into existence.

To sum up the discussion as far as it has gone, Mr. Hill-Tout had maintained (1) that the concept of a ghostly helper is the basis of all his varieties of so-called "totems." I have replied that the idea of a tutelary spirit makes no part of the Australian, or usually of the American "concepts" about the hereditary totems. This is matter of certainty.

Mr. Hill-Tout next argues that hereditary totems are only "personal totems" become hereditary, which may happen, he says, in almost any stage of savage society. I have replied, "not plus the totemic law of exogamy," and he has answered (3) that the law is casual, and may or may not accompany a system of totemic kindred, instancing the Arunta, as a negative example. In answer, I have shown that the Arunta case is not to the point, that it is an isolated "sport."

I have also remarked frequently, in previous works, that under the primitive method of reckoning descent in the female line, an individual male cannot bequeath his personal protective animal as a kin-name to his descendants, so that the hereditary totem of the kin cannot have originated in that way. Mr. Hill-Tout answers that it can, and does, originate in that way—a male founder of a family can, and does, found it by bequeathing his personal protective animal to the descendants of his sisters, so that it henceforth passes in the female line. I quote his reply to my contention that this is not found to occur.[12]

"The main objection brought against this view of the matter by Mr. Andrew Lang and others is that the personal totem is not transmissible or hereditable. But is not this objection contrary to the facts of the case? We have abundant evidence to show that the personal totem is transmissible and hereditable. Even among tribes like the Thompson, where it was the custom for every one of both sexes to acquire a guardian spirit at the period of puberty, we find the totem is in some instances hereditable. Teit says, in his detailed account of the guardian spirits of the Thompson Indians, that 'the totems of the shamans[13] are sometimes inherited directly from the parents'; and among those tribes where individual totemism is not so prevalent, as, for instance, among the coast tribes of British Columbia, the personal totem of a chief or other prominent individual, more particularly if that totem has been acquired by means other than the usual dream or vision, such as a personal encounter with the object in the forest or in the mountains, is commonly inherited and owned by his or her posterity. It is but a few weeks ago that I made a special inquiry into this subject among some of the Halkomelem tribes of the Lower Fraser. 'Dr. George,' a noted shaman[14] of the Tcil'Qe'Ek, related to me the manner in which his grandfather had acquired their family totem,[15] the Bear; and made it perfectly clear that the Bear had been ever since the totem of all his grandfather's descendants. The important totem of the Sqoiàqî[16] which has members in a dozen different tribes of the coast and Lower Fraser Salish, is another case in point. It matters little to us how the first possessor of the totem acquired it. We may utterly disregard the account of its origin as given by the Indians themselves, the main fact for us is, that between a certain object or being and a body of people, certain mysterious relations have been established, identical with those existing between the individual and his personal totem; and that these people trace their descent from and are the lineal descendants of the man or woman who first acquired the totem. Here is evidence direct and ample of the hereditability of the individual totem, and American data abound in it."

All these things occur under the system of male kinship. Even if the "personal totem" of a chief or shaman is adopted by his offspring, it does not affect my argument, nor are the bearers of the badge thus inherited said to constitute an exogamous kin.[17] If they do not, the affair is not, in my sense, "totemic" at all. We should be dealing not with totemism but with heraldry, as when a man of the name of Lion obtains a lion as his crest, and transmits it to his family. Meanwhile I do not see "evidence direct and ample," or a shred of evidence, that a man's familiar animal is borrowed by his sisters, and handed on to their children.

Next, as to that point, Mr. Hill-Tout writes:[18]

"To return to Mr. Lang's primary objection, that the evolution of the group totem cannot proceed from the personal, individual totem because in the more primitive forms of society where totemism originated "male ancestors do not found houses or clan names," descent being on the female side. As Mr. Lang has laid so much stress upon this argument, and is able apart from it to appreciate the force of the evidence for the American point of view, if it can be clearly shown that his objection has no basis in fact, that his conception of the laws of inheritance under matriarchy is faulty, consistency must needs make him a convert to the American view. The singular error into which Mr. Lang has fallen is in overlooking the fact that male property and rights are as hereditable under mother-right as under father-right, the only difference being that in the latter case the transmission is directly from the father to his offspring, and in the former indirectly from the maternal uncle to his sister's children. What is there to prevent a man of ability under matriarchy from 'founding a family,' that is, acquiring an individual totem which by his personal success and prosperity is looked upon as a powerful helper, and therefore worthy of regard and reverence? Under mother-right the head of the clan is invariably a man, the elder male relative on the maternal side; and the clan name is not so much the property of the woman as of her elder brother or her conventional 'father,' that is, her maternal uncle. The 'fathers' of the group, that is, the maternal uncles, are just as much the heads and I founders of houses' and clans in the matriarchal state as under the more advanced state of patriarchal rule. And that they do found family and group totems the evidence from our northern coast tribes makes clear beyond the shadow of a doubt.

"The oft-quoted case of the Bear totem among the Tsimshians is a case in point, and this is but one of scores that could be cited. The origin of this totem came about in the following manner: 'A man was out hunting and met a black bear who took him to his home and taught him many useful things. After a lengthy stay with the bear the man returned home. All the people became afraid of him, he looked and acted so like a bear. Some one took him in hand and rubbed him with magic herbs and he became a man again. Thereafter whenever he went hunting his friend the bear helped him. He built a house and painted the bear on the front of it, and his sister made a dancing blanket, the design of which represented a bear. Thereafter the descendants of his sister used the bear for their crest, and were known as the Bear clan.'[19]

"Who was the 'founder of the family' here, and the source of the clan totem? Clearly and indubitably the many and so it invariably was, as the study of the myths accounting for the clan totems plainly shows.[20] It matters not, I may point out, that these myths may have been created since the formation of the clans to account for their origin, the point for us is that the man was regarded by the natives as the 'founder' of the family and clan. The founders of families and totem-crests are as invariably men under matriarchy as under patriarchy, the essential difference only between the two states in this regard being that under one the descent is through the 'conventional father,' under the other through the 'real or ostensible father.' Such being the case, Mr. Lang's chief argument falls to the ground, and the position taken by American students as to the origin of group-totems is as sound as before."

Now where, outside the region of myth, is there proof that Mr. Hill-Tout's processes ever do occur?

Mr. Hill-Tout argues that the founder of the totem kin is "invariably the man, as the study of the myths accounting for the clan totems plainly shows." But myths have no historical authority, and many of these myths show the very opposite: in them a beast or other creature begets the "clan."[21] To be sure, Mr. Hill-Tout says nothing about these myths, or about scores of familiar American myths[22] to the very same effect.

Again, as mythical evidence is worthless, Mr. Hill-Tout argues that "the man was regarded by the natives themselves as the 'founder' of the family or clan." Yes, in some myths, but not in those which Mr. Hill-Tout overlooks.

That the natives in some myths regard the man as founder of a totem kin under female descent proves nothing at all. Does the Tsimshian Bear myth prove that the natives themselves turn into Bears, and become men again? Does it even prove that such an occurrence, to-day, would now seem normal to them? Nothing is proved, except that in myth-making the natives think that this metamorphosis may have occurred in the past. In the same way—when myth-making—they think that a man might convey his badge to his sisters, to be hereditary in the female line. To prove his case, Mr. Hill-Tout must show that men actually do thus convey their personal protective animals and badges into the female line. To that evidence I shall bow.

If I reasoned like our author, I might argue, "The South African tribes say that their totems (siboko) arose in nicknames given to them on account of known historical incidents, therefore my conjecture that totems thus arose, in group names given from without, is corroborated by the natives themselves, who testify thus to the actuality of that mode of getting tribal names and siboko."[23]

But I, at least, cannot argue thus! The process (my process) does not and cannot occur in South African conditions, where tribes of an advanced culture have sacred protective animals. The natives have merely hit on my own conjecture, as to the remote germ of totemic names, and applied it where the process never occurs. The Tsimshians, in the same way, are familiar with the adoption of protective animals by male individuals. They are also familiar with the descent of the kin-totem through females. Like the famous writer on Chinese Metaphysics, the Tsimshians "combine their information." A man, they say, became a bear, and became a man again. He took the Bear for his badge; and to account for the transmission of the badge through women, the Tsimshians add that his sister also took and transmitted the Bear cognisance, as a hereditary totem. They think this could be done, exactly as the Bakwena think that their tribal protective animal, the Crocodile, the Baboon, or another, could arise in a nickname, given recently. It could not do so, the process is no longer possible, the explanation in this case is false, and does not help my theory of the origin of totemism. In the same way the Bear myth does not help Mr. Hill-Tout's theory, unless he can prove that sisters do actually take and transmit to their descendants, as exogamous totems, the sulia or individual protective animal of their brothers. Of this process I do not observe that Mr. Hill-Tout gives a single verifiable example.

As to this argument, Mr. Hill-Tout writes to me, "I cannot accept your criticism on the poor evidence of the Tsimshian accounts of the origin of their totem kins. You could not take such a view, I think, if you had personal, first-hand knowledge of the Indian mind. Your objections apply to 'classic myths,' but not to the accounts of tribes who are still in the totemic stage."

I fail to understand the distinction. It is now universally recognised that most myths, "classic" or savage (the classic being survivals of savage myths), are mere fanciful hypotheses framed to account for unexplained facts. Moreover, I am discussing and comparing the myths of various savage races, I am not speaking of "classic myths." Savages have anticipated us in every one of our hypotheses as to the origin of totemism, but, of course, they state their hypotheses in the shape of myths, of stories told to account for the facts. Some Australian myths favour Mr. Howitt's hypothesis, others favour that of Mr. Spencer, one flatters that of Dr. Haddon, one African myth is the fore-runner of my theory, and a myth of the Tsimshians anticipates the idea of Mr. Hill-Tout. But all these myths are equally valueless as historical evidence.

As to heritage under female kin, which I am said not to understand, no man reckoning by female kin has hitherto been said to inherit his totem from his maternal uncle! A man inherits his totem from his mother only, and inherits it if he has no maternal uncles, and never had. If a man has a manitu, a nagual, a yunbeai, a nyarong, or "personal totem," his sister does not take it from him and hand it to her children, or, if this ever occurs, I say once more, we need proof of it. A man may inherit "property and rights" from his maternal uncles under female kin. But I speak of the totem name, which a man undeniably does not inherit from his maternal uncle, while there is no proof offered that a woman ever takes such a name from her brother, and hands it on to her children. So I repeat that, under the system of reckoning in the female line, "male ancestors do not found houses or clan names," or are not proved to do so.

It is apparent, probably, that a theory of totemism derived in great part from the myths and customs of a few advanced tribes, dwelling in village communities, and sometimes in possession of the modern family, with male kin, is based on facts which are not germane to the matter. The origin of totemism must be sought in tribes of much more backward culture, and of the confessedly "more primitive" type of organisation with female descent To disprove Mr. Hill-Tout's theory is of course impossible. There may have been a time when "personal totems" were as common among the Australians as they are now rare. There may have been a time when an Australian man's sisters adopted, and transmitted, his "personal totem," though that is no longer done to our knowledge. It may have chanced that stocks, being provided, on Mr. Hill-Tout's plan, with tutelary spirits of animal names descending in the female line, made marriage treaties, and so became exogamous. Then we should have explained totemism, perhaps, but a considerable number of missing facts must be discovered and reported before this explanation can be accepted.

Mr. Hill-Tout's scheme, I presume, would work out thus: there are sets of human beings, A, B, C, D, E, F. In all of these every man acquires an animal, plant, or other friendly object. Their sisters adopt it as a name, and hand it on to their children. The stocks are now named after the familiar animals, as Grouse, Trout, Deer, Turtle, Buffalo, Salmon, and hundreds more. They have hitherto, I presume, married as they please, anyhow. But stocks Grouse and Deer think, "We shall be stronger if we give our women to each other, and never let a Grouse marry a Grouse, or a Deer a Deer." They make this pact, the other stocks, Salmon, Turtle, Buffalo, &c., come into it, ranging themselves under Deer or Grouse, and now Deer and Grouse are phratries in a tribe with the other animals as heads of totem kins in the phratries. The animals themselves go on being tutelary spirits, and are highly respected.

This scheme (whether Mr. Hill-Tout would arrange it just thus or not) works perfectly well. It explains the origin of exogamy—not by an inexplicable moral reform, and bisection of the horde, but as the result of a political alliance. It explains the origin of totemism by a theory of animal-shaped tutelary spirits taken on by sisters from brothers, and bequeathed by the sisters when they become mothers to their children. It explains the origin of phratries, and of totem kins in the phratries. It works out all along the line—if only one knew that very low savages deliberately made political alliances; and if all low savages had animal-shaped tutelary spirits; and if these were known to be adopted from brothers by sisters, and by sisters bequeathed, for an eternal possession, to their children; and if these transactions, once achieved, were never repeated in each line of female descent—no sister in the next generation taking on her brother's personal tutelary animal, and bequeathing it to her children for ever. Finally, if savages in general did regard their hereditary totems as tutelary spirits, the sketch which I make on Mr. Hill-Tout's lines would leave nothing to be desired. But we do not know any of these desirable facts.

If I have stated Mr. Hill-Tout's ideas correctly, he agrees with me in regarding the tribe as formed by aggregation of many more primitive groups. He does not regard the phratries and totem kins as the result of the segmentation of a primordial indiscriminate mass or horde, split up at the injunction of an inspired medicine man, or by a tribal decree. Against our opinion, Mr. Howitt argues that only one writer who "has or had a personal acquaintance with the Australian blacks" accepts it, the Rev. John Matthew. It is accepted, however, as far as "sub-phratries" go (as an alternative hypothesis), by Mr. Hewitt's friend, Dr. Fison.[24] But I have given my reasons for not accepting Mr. Howitt's doctrine, and I await some reason for his rejection of mine. Even authors who have "a personal acquaintance with the Australian blacks" should, I venture to think, give their reasons for rejecting one and persisting in another theory of "the probabilities of the case."[25] I have shown why I think it improbable that a postulated prehistoric tribe split itself up, for no alleged reason, at the suggestion of a medicine man. Now I am anxious to know why my postulated groups should not make marriage alliance for the reason of securing peace—a very sufficient motive for betrothals.

[1] Compare Mr. N. W. Thomas's criticisms of Mr. Hill-Tout, in Man, May, June, July 1904.

[2] We must not suppose that all American scholars agree with the views of the "American School." Major Powell used "totem" in from ten to fourteen different meanings.

[3] Totémisme et Tabou à Madagascar. 1904.

[4] A perfectly fictitious blood-tie, when a man Crow is born in Victoria, and a woman Crow on the Gulf of Carpentaria.—A. L.

[5] Howitt. Native Tribes of South-East Australia, p. 144.

[6] For full details see Messrs. McDougall and Hose, J. A. I., N.S., xxxi pp. 199-201.

[7] Report of Nat. Mus., U.S., 1895, p. 336.

[8] Mr. Hill-Tout differs from my understanding of Dr. Boas's remarks.

[9] Frazer, Totemism, pp. 3-5. Dorman, pp. 231-234.

[10] MS. of Mrs. Langloh Parker.

[11] J. A. I., vol. xvi. pp. 44, 50, 350. Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 144, 387, 388. MS. of Mrs. Langloh Parker.

[12] Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada, ix., xi. p. 72.

[13] These are not totems, but "familiars," like the witch's cat or hare.—A. L.

[14] The shaman's sons keep on the shaman business, with the paternal familiar. It is not, in my sense, a totem.—A. L.

[15] My italics.

[16] Brit. Ass., 1902. Report of Ethnol. Survey of Canada, pp. 51-52, 57. A fairy tale about the origin of a society of healing and magical influence.—A. L.

[17] Mr. Hill-Tout says elsewhere: "Shamans only inherited their sulia" (he speaks of these personal totems or sulia) "from their fathers; other men had to acquire their own. But this applied only to the dream or vision totem or protective spirit." If a man "met his ghostly guardian in form of a bear," when hunting, he would take it as his "crest" and transmit it. This happened in the case of "Dr. George," who inherited his crest and guardian, the Bear, from his great-grandfather, who met a bear not in a dream but when hunting. (J. A. I., vol. xxxiv. pp. 326, 327.) Such inheritance, in an advanced American tribe of to-day, does not seem to me to corroborate the belief that totems among the many primitive tribes of Australia are the result of inheriting a personal crest or guardian spirit of a male ancestor.

[18] Transactions, ix. p. 76.

[19] Fifth Report on the Physical Characteristics, &c., of the N.W. Tribes of Canada, B.A.A.S., p. 24. London, 1889.

[20] The myths, in fact, vary; the myth of descent from the totem also occurs even in these tribes. (Hartland, Folk Lore, xi. I, pp. 60-61. Boas, Nat. Mus. Report, 1895, pp. 331, 336, 375.)—A. L.

[21] Cf. Mr. Hartland in Folk Lore, ut supra.

[22] Frazer, Totemism, pp. 3-5.

[23] For the full account of Siboko see Chapter II., supra.

[24] Kamilaroi and Kurnai, pp. 71, 72.

[25] Native Tribes of South-East Australia, pp. 143, 144.

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