The Native Tribes of North Central Australia, by Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen , at sacred-texts.com
The early, middle and later Alcheringa—The early Alcheringa—Transformation of the Inapertwa creatures into human beings by the Ungambikula—Tradition referring to the Ulpmerka of the plum tree totem—The two lizard men kill the Oruncha at Simpson Gap—Marital relations not restricted by totem in the Alcheringa—The middle Alcheringa—The Ullakupera men and their stone knives—Introduction by them of circumcision by means of a stone knife—Endeavour of the Utiara men to secure stone knives—Wanderings of the Ullakupera from Atnaturka to Utiara—The Ullakupera transform Inapertwa into human beings and give them class names—An old Echidna man disapproves of the use of stone knives—The men of the Elonka totem who had not been circumcised by the Ungambikula are operated on and made into Arakurta—The Echidna mutilates and kills the last man on whom the Ullakupera were about to operate—He is himself killed, and the spears which were thrown into his body are represented by the spines of the Echidna—In consequence of this there are no more Echidna men and women—The Ullakupera men march on, and another Echidna man murders one upon whon they were about to operate, and is killed—The murdered man comes to life again—End of the Ullakupera wanderings—The wanderings of the Achilpa or wild cat people and the introduction by them of the ceremony of sub-incision—The first group of wild cat people start from the east side and travel north—The wild cat men feed on Hakea flower and drink their own blood—They join a party of plum tree men, die, and come to life again as Ulpmerka of the plum tree totem—The second group of wild cat people—Divides into two groups, one of which travels north by way of Imanda on the Hugh River, and then on beyond the Macdonnell Ranges to a spot at which they are all drowned in blood by a wild cat man—The third group travels to the west of the second group, crosses the Macdonnell Ranges, reaches the centre of the continent, and there the men die—The fourth party travels still further to the west, crosses the Macdonnell Ranges, and journeys on to the north until the Salt Water country is reached—The later Alcheringa—Restrictions with regard to marriage in the middle Alcheringa—Men and women of the same totem living together—The emu people establish the present class system—Outline of stages supposed to have been passed through in the development of the social organisation, &c., according to tradition.
WE have hitherto spoken of the Alcheringa in general terms, using the word to denote the whole period during which the mythical ancestors of the present Arunta tribe existed. In reality the traditions of the tribe recognise four more or less distinct periods in the Alcheringa. During the first
of these men and women were created; in the second the rite of circumcision by means of a stone knife, in place of a fire-stick, was introduced; in the third the rite of Ariltha or sub-incision was introduced, and in the fourth the present organisation and marriage system of the tribe were established. The second and third periods are, however, by no means sharply defined, and to a certain extent they are contemporaneous, or rather they overlap one another.
We may speak of these periods as the early, the middle (comprising the second and third), and the later Alcheringa.
The earliest tradition with which we are acquainted is as follows. In the early Alcheringa the country was covered with salt water (Kwatcha alia). This was gradually withdrawn towards the north by the people of that country who always wanted to get it and to keep it for themselves. 1 At last they succeeded in doing so, and the salt water has remained with them ever since. At this time there dwelt in the Alkira aldorla, that is the western sky, two beings of whom it is said that they were Ungambikula, a word which means “out of nothing,” or “self-existing.” From their elevated dwelling-place they could see, far away to the east, a number of Inapertwa creatures, 2 that is rudimentary human beings or incomplete men, whom it was their mission to make into men and women.
In those days there were no men and women, and the Inapertwa were of various shapes and dwelt in groups along by the shores of the salt water. They had no distinct limbs or organs of sight, hearing or smell, and did not eat food, and presented the appearance of human beings all doubled up into a rounded mass in which just the outline of the different parts of the body could be vaguely seen.
Coming down from their home in the western sky, armed with their Lalira or great stone knives, the Ungambikula took
hold of the Inapertwa, one after the other. First of all the arms were released, then the fingers were added by making four clefts at the end of each arm; then legs and toes were added in the same way. The figure could now stand, and after this the nose was added and the nostrils bored with the fingers. A cut with the knife made the mouth, which was pulled open several times to make it flexible. A slit on each side separated the upper and lower eye-lids, hidden behind which the eyes were already present, another stroke or two completed the body, and thus, out of the Inapertwa, men and women were formed.
These Inapertwa creatures were in reality stages in the transformation of various animals and plants into human beings, and thus they were naturally, when made into human beings, intimately associated with the particular animal or plant, as the case may be, of which they were the transformations—in other words, each individual of necessity belonged to a totem the name of which was of course that of the animal or plant of which he or she was a transformation. This tradition of the Ungambikula only refers to a certain number of totems, or rather to a certain number of local groups of individuals belonging to particular totems; in the case of others such as, for example, the Udnirringita or witchetty grub totem, there is no tradition relating to the Inapertwa stage. The Ungambikula made into men Inapertwa who belonged to the following totems:—Akakia or plum tree, Inguitchika or grass seed, Echunpa or large lizard, Erliwatchera or small lizard, Atninpirichira or Alexandra parakeet, and Untania or small rat. In the case of all except the first they also performed the rite of Lartna or circumcision by means of a fire-stick.
The same tradition relates that, after having performed their mission, the Ungambikula transformed themselves into little lizards called Amunga-quiniaquinia, a word derived from amunga a fly and quiniaquinia to snap up quickly. There is no reason given for this, and in no other tradition do we meet with either the Ungambikula or the special kind of lizard into which they changed.
In the case of a group of plum tree men who lived at a p. 390 spot called Quiurnpa, 1 which is associated with many traditions and in the case also of certain of the Unguitchika (grass seed totem) men, the Ungambikula first of all made them into human beings but did not circumcise them, so that they were what the natives call Ulpmerka,—the term applied to boys before this rite has been performed upon them. The Ungambikula, so the tradition goes on to say, intended to return and complete the work, but they were annoyed by the behaviour of certain Oruncha, that is “devil-devil” men, who lived at a place called Atnuraquina, which is near to a gap in the Macdonnell Range now called Temple Bar. These evil beings killed and ate a lot of lizard men and women whom they had made out of Inapertwa, so they did not return, and therefore the plum tree people of Quiurnpa, and one or two other groups of men and women, remained in the state of Ulpmerka or uninitiated. The same Oruncha ate a number of Alexandra parakeet, grass seed and small rat people. Of the lizard men only two survived the slaughter. They were brothers (how they came to be so the tradition does not say) and the younger of the two, together with his wife, was away down south when the slaughter took place. Upon his return he at once saw the tracks of the Oruncha, and being frightened he placed his wife, who was also a lizard, in the centre of his Ilpilla, which is the large bundle of eagle-hawk feathers worn in the hair-girdle in the middle of the back, and thus concealed her from view. Then he searched for his Okilia or elder brother, and at length found his head, to which he spoke, with the result that the man at once came to life and said, “the Oruncha killed us but they threw away my head; they will come again, take care of yourself.”
Then he pointed to the track which they had made, and the two men, arming themselves with strong Urumpira, that is spears of heavy wood such as mulga, all made in one piece and only used for fighting at close quarters, went to opposite sides of a narrow gorge which is now known as the Simpson Gap, and is at the present day an important local centre of the lizard totem. The natives
point out special stones which mark the spot where the two men stood.
When the Oruncha made their appearance, the two brothers rushed down upon them, and with their good Urumpira killed them all. They fell in a great heap just at the entrance to the gorge, and to the present day a great pile of jagged boulders marks the exact spot. After having thus destroyed their enemies, the elder of the two brothers stayed at the gorge, and there finally died, though his spirit remained in the Churinga, which he, like every other Alcheringa individual, carried about with him; the younger brother travelled away to a place a long way to the south called Arumpira not far from Erldunda, where he died, and so, by leaving his spirit behind in his Churinga, together with those associated with other Churinga which he carried, formed there a local Echunpa or lizard totem centre.
The above tradition is of considerable interest; it is in the p. 392 first place evidently a crude attempt to describe the origin of human beings out of non-human creatures who were of various forms; some of them were representatives of animals, others of plants, but in all cases they are to be regarded as intermediate stages in the transition of an animal or plant ancestor into a human individual who bore its name as that of his or her totem. It has already been said that the tradition only refers to certain totems; we shall see subsequently that in the middle Alcheringa the making of men out of Inapertwa was continued by individuals of the Ullakupera or little hawk totem. The reference in the tradition to the Ulpmerka men of the Akakia (plum tree), and Ingwitchika (grass seed) totems is of importance, as it serves to throw light upon what had been to us for some time a matter of considerable difficulty, and one for which no explanation had been forth-coming. We were acquainted with numerous ceremonies concerned with a group of individuals who were always spoken of as the Ulpmerka of a place called Quiurnpa, and we were also acquainted with ceremonies concerned with certain so-called Arakurta men. In each case the men were groups of individuals who belonged to special totems. One man, for example, would be an Akakia or plum tree man, while another would be an Ulpmerka of the Akakia totem. In just the same way one man would be an Elonka (a Marsdenia fruit) man, and another would be an Arakurta of the Elonka totem. In the above tradition and in those concerned with the middle Alcheringa period, we can see how this is accounted for by the natives. The Ulpmerka were certain of the plum tree men who were not circumcised by the Ungambikula, and the Arakurta were in the same state, but were subsequently operated upon by the Ullakupera and were thus changed from Ulpmerka into Arakurta.
Attention must also be drawn to the striking fact that there is no reference whatever to any system of organisation apart from the totemic system, and further that this is not described as regulating marriage. The only reference to the latter which occurs is in the case of the younger of the two lizard brothers, who carried his wife in the bunch of eagle-hawk feathers, and it is expressly said of her that she was a p. 393 lizard woman, that is, she belonged to the same totem as that to which he himself did. In fact, during the Alcheringa period concerning which we have very numerous and full traditions, some of which will be dealt with subsequently, it will be clearly seen that we are dealing with a time in which marital relations were not restricted by totem. We have definite indications of the existence of such relations between men and women of the same totems. We have been constantly on the watch for any tradition which would deal with the regulation of the marital relationship in times past, but though, as will be seen shortly, there are clear indications of a time when the restrictions which now obtain were adopted, there is no indication whatever of a time when a man of any particular totem was obliged to marry a woman of another one. Such indications as there appear on the contrary rather point towards the usual existence of marital relations between men and women of the same totem. There are, however, one or two traditions which deal with the relationship p. 394 of men and women of different totems, and these will be discussed later; meanwhile it may be said that in the matter of totems and the restriction by these of marital relationship, a sharp line of separation may be drawn between the northern central tribes as exemplified by the Arunta, and the southern central tribes as exemplified by the Urabunna.
We may now pass on to deal with the middle Alcheringa period. Tradition relates that a great Oknirabata 1 of the Ullakupera or little hawk totem arose at a place called Atnaturka by the side of a stream now called Love's Creek. He and the men of his group were remarkable for the possession of very fine stone knives, called Lalira, with which they performed the operation of Lartna or circumcision. Amongst the men of all other totems up to that time stone knives were not used for this purpose, and the operation was always performed with a fire-stick. 2
One of the Ullakupera men, who was a Purula named Ulpmurintha, flew from Atnaturka to Utiara, a place about ten miles north of Alice Springs, where at an earlier time the Umgambikula had made into Ulpmerka certain Inapertwa creatures of the Untaina or small rat totem. Along with these people there dwelt two Ullakupera men, one a Kumara named Irtaquirinia and the other a Purula named Yirapurtarinia, a Kumara man, both of whom are at the present time represented by living men, who are in fact simply regarded as their reincarnations.
Previous to the arrival of Ulpmarintha the two Ullakupera men had prepared a large Apulla, that is a special ground on which the rite of circumcision is performed, and on this they intended to operate on the Ulpmerka with the usual fire-stick. When, however, Ulpmurintha appeared upon the scene, the two men went to him and said, “How must we cut these Ulpmerka men?” and he replied, “You must cut them with Lalira.” They replied sorrowfully, “We have no Lalira but we
will cut them with Ura-ilyabara” (that is a fire-stick). The old man said, “No, do not do that, follow me to Atnaturka and I will give you some Lalira.” Then he flew back quickly to Atnaturka and told two old men of his group what he had seen and said. One of these old men was a Kumara named Intumpulla, and the other was a Bulthara named Ungipurturinia, and these two went and hid away the good Lalira, leaving only the poor ones in sight. Shortly afterwards the two Ullakupera men flew across the country to Atnaturka, and there they were given some Lalira swathed in bark. After receiving these they, without examining them, at once started back on their return journey, very much pleased with their good fortune in securing the knives. Upon arriving at Utiara they opened their parcels and found, very much to their annoyance, that the stone knives were very rough, and quite unlike those described to them by the old men. After this they paid several visits to Atnaturka with the object of securing some good Lalira, but were always treated in the same way, and being very desirous of securing them in some way or another they finally invited the old Ullakupera men to again visit Utiara, where a great number of Ulpmerka were ready to be operated upon. Accordingly a party of Ullakupera led by the two old men already named started from Atnaturka taking with them some women and carrying some good Lalira. They made their first camp at a place called Urtiacha, where the two streams now called Love's Creek and Todd River unite. They had no Nurtunja with them nor any bird's down, but only Equina, or white pipe-clay, and Apirka, or powdered charcoal, with which to decorate themselves. Here they found an Apulla in readiness, at which were assembled a number of men, some of whom belonged to the Ertwaitcha or bell bird totem, and others to other totems. The Ullakupera men here performed the operation upon some of the young men, and afterwards upon a number of the local men who considered the Lalira to be a great improvement upon the fire-stick.
Close by the Apulla ground there were a large number of Inapertwa creatures of the same totem as the local men who had been operated upon. These the Ullakupera, with their p. 396 stone knives, made into men and women, and at the same time conferred upon them the class names which they ever afterwards bore. It was these Ullakupera men who for the first time conferred upon the Arunta people the names of Panunga, Bulthara, Purula, and Kumara.
The Ullakupera were very quick in performing the operation of circumcision, and an Inarlinga (Echidna or “Porcupine”) man who dwelt close by was very angry when he arrived and found that it was all over. He very strongly disapproved of the introduction of the stone knives.
Where the Apulla ground had been made a fine clay-pan—that is a shallow depression capable of holding water for some time after a rainfall—was formed to mark the spot, and here several of the Ullakupera men went into the ground with their Churinga, from the spirits associated with which men and women, some of whom are now living, have sprung.
Leaving this camp the party travelled a little north of a spot called Wurungatha, followed by the Inarlinga man. Here again they operated upon some more men; the Inarlinga man came up too late, and was angry as before, and another clay-pan arose to mark the spot. The Inarlinga man did not follow them any further. Travelling on the party came to a spot called Iturkwarinia, where they found a number of men of the Arwatcha totem (little rat), but they did not operate upon these people, because there was no Apulla in readiness, but they transformed a number of Inapertwa into Arwatcha men and women. At this place one Purula woman and a Kumara man were left behind, the Lalira which the latter carried being transformed into a Churinga when he went into the ground and died. Then they went on to the east of what is now Mount Undoolya, where they came across a number of Inapertwa of the Alchantwa (a seed) totem, who were transformed into human beings, and to the present day a fine group of gum trees marks the spot where they performed the operation. Thence, crossing the range, they came to Urwampina, and here they found that the Arwatcha (little rat) people had prepared an Apulla, and therefore they performed Lartna upon them, and also operated upon Inapertwa creatures. Here also one Purula man remained behind and p. 397 went into the ground. He has since undergone reincarnation in the form of a man who was the father of a woman now living at Alice Springs.
Travelling on they came to a place called Bulthara, because at the suggestion of the old Bulthara man, the party divided, the one half, that is the Panunga and Bulthara, going to one side, while the other half, that is the Purula and Kumara, went to the other side. Turning their faces towards the east they looked back upon the course which they had come, and as soon as they had done this two hills arose to mark the spots on which they had stood. Then they again mingled together and some Inapertwa of the Irritcha (eagle hawk) totem were operated upon, and others also who belonged to the Untaina (small rat) totem. These newly-made beings were divided into two groups and made to stand apart just as the other men had done before. Then they marched on to a place called Ilarchainquila, on the present Jesse Creek, to the north of Undoolya, where they found, and operated on, some more Inapertwa of the eagle-hawk totem; at Pitcharnia they found and operated upon some more, and at Chirchungina they met with Oruncha Inapertwa, and at Chara there were some belonging to the Arthwarta (a small hawk) totem; on all of these they operated.
At Chara they were met by two men, who came from Utiara, and said, “We have brought back your stone knives which you gave us, they are of no use, why did you not give us good ones?” The old men said, after they had looked at the Lalira, “Yes, these are no good, you may take some others.” They accordingly took some, and saying, “Come quickly to our Apulla,” at once returned to Utiara. Some curious looking stones, now regarded as sacred, arose to mark the spot were the Lalira were spread out. At Kartathura some Inapertwa of the Erlia (emu) totem were operated upon, and then, without camping, the party moved on to Thungumina, which lies some seven or eight miles to the north of Alice Springs, where again more Inapertwa of the emu totem were operated upon. At Thungamina they deposited some inferior Lalira, which were, however, afterwards picked up by the local people, and being by them regarded as sacred were placed in the store-house or Ertnatulunga at Utiara. Then the p. 398 party travelled on to Thungarunga, and operated there upon Inapertwa creatures of the Marsdenia fruit and rat totems, and, having done so, cleaned up and sharpened their Lalira with ashes and walked on to Utiara, where they stood waiting to hear the Lartna song which would show them that the Apulla was ready. As soon as the singing was heard they went on to the Apulla ground, a number of stones standing up on end now marking the spot where they stood and waited.
Standing to one side of the Apulla they watched while the two local men for the first time operated with stone knives. They were not, as yet, expert in the use of the knives, and after two or three operations the old Ullakupera man named Intumpulla said, “Stand aside, I will do the cutting;” and so he cut all the Ulpmerka who had previously been transformed out of Inapertwa by the Ungambikula. He told them to go away altogether to the Utiara Range where they went into the ground and so formed there an Oknanikilla which is called that of the Arakurta of the Elonka totem, and which is the only one of this nature in the neighbourhood.
After sending the Arakurta away the old man still went on cutting, and when about to operate on the last man, who was markilunawa, that is a married man, an old man of the Inarlinga (Echidna) totem rushed on to the Apulla ground and said, “I must cut this man with my Lalira,” and drawing a knife from a socket in his skull just behind his ear, grasped the man's penis and scrotum, and with one savage stroke of his knife cut them off, and the man fell down dead. The old Echidna man at once ran away, but was followed by the Ullakupera and other men, who killed him, riddling his body with spears. Since then no Echidna men or women have ever sprung up in the country, but only animals covered with spines, which represent the spears with which the Alcheringa Echidna man was killed. Before this happened there were Echidna animals, but they had no spines, and this is how the Inarlinga or Echidna came to be covered with spines. By thus killing the man on the sacred Apulla ground the Inarlinga “spoilt” himself, and all the totem kindred, and so they cannot rise again except in p. 399 the form of little animals covered with spines which are simply Alcheringa spears.
When the wives of the murdered man missed him they went to the Apulla ground and there they found him dead, and, noticing his mutilated state, they searched for many days for the missing organs. They dug up the Apulla ground without success, and were much troubled until one day the younger of the two women, who was Quitia or younger sister of the other, found the missing organs under the bank on one side of the Apulla; placing them in her alpara or pitchi, she took them to the body and tried to join them on again, but they would not remain in position, and so she called her elder sister and both tried many times without any success, until finally, placing the organs on the ground, they laid the body on the top of them, face downwards, so that they might rest in the proper position. Then, feeling very mournful, the two women sat down, one on each side of the dead man, and all three then turned into the stones which still exist to mark the spot. A little distance away is another stone which represents the mother of the two women, who came to look for her daughters and would not go away without them. Being Mura to the dead man she could not come close up to him and so sat down a little distance away.
At this spot the Ullakupera men left some women, thus forming another Oknanikilla, and of these women, one a Purula, called Chitta, has at the present day a living representative.
From Utiara the party flew up into the sky, and travelling northwards descended again to earth at Ilkania, a spot close to what is now known as the Burt Plain, where they found bandicoot, carpet snake and one old Echidna man assembled at an Apulla ground. Here they performed Lartna with their stone knives, and once more, just as they were about to cut the last man who was an Okranina or snake man, the old Echidna man rushed up, and, before they could stop him, mutilated the man with a stone knife which he carried, as before, in a socket behind his ear. The Echidna was at once speared, but ran a short distance from the Apulla while the spears were pouring in upon him, until, after having p. 400 run round in a circle, he fell down dead. A circular rock hole appeared to mark the spot. All the men who had been operated upon ran away, followed by their women; the wives of the murdered man remained behind and called to him many times, but received no reply, and as it was night-time they could not see him, and so they sat down and waited anxiously for the daylight. Early in the morning they went to the Apulla ground, and there they found him dead and mutilated. For some time they mourned over him, and then they started to search for the missing parts, which, after a time, they found close to the Apulla. Then they lifted the body into a sitting position, placing it in a large pitchi, and replaced in their position the parts which had been cut off, and then after much crying, being hungry, they went away in search of food. Shortly after their departure the man awoke as if from a dream, perfectly sound, but of course an Ulpmerka, for the old Ullakupera man had not operated upon him. He at once found the women's tracks and followed them to where they were eating Okranina, or snake, which was their totem. They were rejoiced to see him, and then all of them went into the earth, carrying their Churinga with them, and three stones arose to mark the spot where they went in.
After killing the Echidna man and leaving behind one little hawk woman, who has no living representative, the party once more took wing and travelled on to Urangipa, where they found a lot of Kakwa men assembled at an Apulla ground. Here the old Intumpulla insisted upon performing Lartna. He also transformed a number of Inapertwa into human beings, and, so says tradition, being enamoured of the Kakwa women he decided to stay at Urangipa, and accordingly stayed there altogether, together with another Kumara man named Unchinia. The rest of the party went on under the leadership of the Bulthara man. For some distance they took wing and then came down to earth at the Mirra or camp of the Ullakupera, where they found a Yarumpa or honey-ant woman of the Panunga class, who had a Nurtunja which she did not wish the strangers to see. She did her best to drive them away, using abusive language, which very much annoyed the old Ullakupera man, who killed her with a p. 401 spear, but did not interfere with her Nurtunja, which is now represented by a large gum tree. At this spot a Panunga man was left behind, and hence they travelled on to Urumbia, which lies to the north of the place which was named Anna's Reservoir by Stuart, the early explorer, during his journey across the continent. This lies within the country of the Ilpirra tribe, and the party changed its language to that of the Ilpirra. Here also they met with a number of extraordinary - looking Inapertwa creatures of the honey-ant totem, who were engaged in performing an Engwura ceremony. These they made into men and women, and then, leaving a Panunga woman behind, they went away, flying off towards the west to a place called Ungapirta, where they found Inapertwa of the Ullakupera totem, whom they transformed into human beings; and then they all went into the ground, where the Churinga with their associated spirits ever after remained, so that at this place there is a large and important Oknanikilla or local centre of the Ullakupera totem.
It will be seen that there are two points of importance so far as these Ullakupera men and the work which they carried out is concerned. In the first place they introduced the use of a stone knife in place of the fire-stick 1 at the ceremony of circumcision. They were apparently not the only men who possessed stone knives, as the Echidna men are distinctly stated to have had them, and in the southern part of the tribe a woman of the frog totem is said to have possessed one. Probably we have in this tradition an indication of a time when a more primitive method of cutting was retained in connection with a sacred ceremony than was used in the case of the ordinary operations of life. 2 In the southern Arunta tradition
says that one day the men were, as usual, circumcising a boy with a fire-stick when an old woman rushed up and, telling the men that they were killing all the boys because they were using a fire-stick, showed them how to use a sharp stone, and ever afterwards the fire-stick was discarded.
The second point of importance is the introduction of the class names, but it must be also noticed that there is no mention of any restrictions with regard to marriage connected with them, nor is any reason assigned for their introduction. In fact, as yet, we have no indication of any restrictions on marriage so far as either totems or classes are concerned, such restrictions we shall meet with in traditions referring to a later period in the history of the tribe. It will also be seen that there is no attempt to offer any explanation of the origin of the ceremony of circumcision, and in connection with this subject it may be noticed that, so far as the Arunta tribe is concerned, circumcision is represented as being practised upon men who are already provided with wives, and this, which is the earliest tradition dealing with the subject, gives no indication whatever of the reason for the fact that circumcision is, at the present day, one of the most important ceremonies which must be passed through before any youth is allowed to have a wife.
Concerned with the middle Alcheringa people, but coming at a later date than the Ullakupera men, who introduced the use of the stone knife at Lartna, we meet with traditions concerning certain early Achilpa, or wild cat men, who in their turn introduced the ceremony of Ariltha, or sub-incision.
Amongst the Achilpa there are four distinct groups, with regard to the doings of whom the natives have traditions as follows.
The first group started from a place called Okira, somewhere to the east of Wilyunpa, which itself lies on the Finke river, out to the east of the present telegraph station at Charlotte Waters. They carried with them a sacred pole called a Kauaua, which they erected at various stopping places. To this special ceremonial object, reference is made in the account of the Engwura ceremony, as it is always, and exclusively, used in connection with this. When during the course of their p. 403 marchings they performed the rite of Ariltha or sub-incision they always erected a special Nurtunja.
Leaving Okira the men came to Therierita, where they performed Ariltha, made Engwura, and left some members of the party behind them. Thence they went on to Atymikoala, a few miles to the east of Love's Creek, and there they performed quabara undattha, that is a sacred ceremony concerned with one or other of the totems in connection with the decoration for which undattha or bird's down is used. Each of the sacred ceremonies, as performed at the present day, is supposed to be the exact counterpart of one of these ceremonies of the Alcheringa. The Quabara Achilpa of Therierita, as a particular ceremony is now called, is, for example, the special ceremony which was performed on the occasion when the wild cat men visited Therierita, and the ceremony was the special property of one member of the party. It was in this way—by their performance at certain particular spots—that the ceremonies became, each one of them, associated with these spots.
From this resting place they marched on to Achilp-ilthunka, which means where the Achilpa was cut to pieces, and is close to the present Arltunga out in the eastern Macdonnell Ranges.
Here they met a wild cat man who had come down from the salt water country away to the north. He is recorded as having been abnormally developed, and as having ravished and killed women all along his route. He was also atnarbita or foul-smelling, and intended going on to Therierita, but the Achilpa being enraged with him on account of his conduct, killed him and mutilated him, and a large stone arose to mark the place where they buried him. Leaving this spot they marched on, driving enormous numbers of mosquitoes on in front of them. Tradition also says that they lived on Unjiamba, or Hakea flower, and that when they were thirsty they drank their own blood, as the natives often do at the present day. As they journeyed on they passed Unchiperawartna, but did not see two women of the opossum totem who lived there, and then they reached a place now called Aurapuncha. Before, however, they came quite close up, they smelt Akakia or plum tree men, and as soon as they came p. 404 into the bed of the creek they saw a number of men and boys eating plums. With them they stayed for some time, and after performing quabara undattha they went into the ground; in other words they died, and after a time arose again, no longer as Achilpa men, but changed into Ulpmerka or uninitiated men of the Akakia or plum tree totem. Taking along with them the local Ulpmerka of the Akakia totem, the newly arisen Ulpmerka went on to a place called Erlua, somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Strangway Range, and leaving at various spots a few members of their party behind them, so as to form Oknanikilla, they came at last to Arwura-puncha, where they met a large number of Ulpmerka men, who had come up from Quiurnpa under the leadership of a celebrated man called Kukaitcha, and were carrying with them a large Nurtunja. The two parties joined forces, and when they had performed quabara undattha they left two men behind and proceeded to Urangunja, where they found two women of the Urpura totem (magpie) who had a Nurtunja and owned certain ceremonies which they showed to the men. These women had their arms, heads and necks covered with furstring and the tail-tips of the rabbit-kangaroo, called Alpita, which at the present day are always worn as a decoration by women at special ceremonies. The Ulpmerka camped here for some time performing sacred ceremonies, which, however, the women were not allowed to see. Leaving here they passed on to Ilchartwa-nynga, where they made a great Altherta—that is, an ordinary so-called corrobboree which has no sacred nature and may be seen and taken part in by women and the uninitiated—and here a large number of stones standing up on end arose and still exist to mark the spot where the Ulpmerka danced. They are now called Ulpmerka atnimma, that is the standing Ulpmerka. After this they journeyed on to Alawalla, which lies to the east of Central Mount Stuart, which, as its name implies, is situated in the very centre of the continent, and there they made Quabara. As they did so a curious phenomenon was witnessed—the Akakia trees shed their plums so thickly that it was just as if it were raining plums; the fruit ran along the ground like a flood, and the Ulpmerka would have been drowned in them if they had not p. 405 quickly gone into the ground and so made their escape. They emerged at Incharlinga on the Stirling Creek, where they performed ceremonies, and from here Kukaitcha led them right away north to the country of the salt water.
The second group of Achilpa or wild cat people came from the country of the Luritcha tribe, far away to the south-west of the present Arunta land, and camped at a place called Yungurra to the west of Henbury on the Finke river. The party was led by two Oknirabata, or wise old men, who on account of the abnormal development of their organs were called Atnimma-la-truripa.
At Yungurra the party divided into two groups, one of the old men going with each of them. Of these two parties one will now be spoken of as the second and the other as the third group of the Achilpa.
The second group crossed the Finke river about twelve miles south of Henbury, and travelled on to Imanda on the Hugh river, where they changed their language to the Arunta tongue. Like the first party they carried a sacred pole or Kauaua. On arriving at Imanda they found a large number of Unchichera (frog), Elkintera (white bat), and Unchipera (little bat) men who were engaged in performing an Engwura ceremony in which the new comers joined, the young men amongst the Achilpa being sent out daily into the bush along with those of the other totemic groups. The head of the Unchichera totem at this spot was also Atnimma-la-truripa, and his name was Kartuputapa. The Achilpa remained for a long time at a spot close to Imanda, where they left some men behind them and so established an important Oknanikilla. When they left Imanda they were accompanied by Kartuputapa, and camped first at a big clay pan called Itnuna-twuna in the James Range, where they performed ceremonies and saw a Purula woman of the frog totem whose name was Umbalcha. She possessed a Nurtunja and sacred ceremonies which she showed to the Achilpa. This woman had arisen in this spot. Then they travelled to Ooraminna, where they made an Engwura and discovered a number of men who were suffering from Erkincha—a disease common amongst the natives and concerning which p. 406 there are certain traditions to which reference will be made subsequently. They also saw a number of Unjiamba (Hakea flower) men and women who had originated there, and also the two Unjiamba women who had come from Engwurnanunga. After performing Ariltha upon the Unjiamba men and also upon some of their own young men, they performed the initiation ceremony called Atna ariltha-kuma upon the two women just referred to. At Ooraminna they left three men and here also Kartuputapa, the frog man, left the party and went back to his own country at Imanda. The wild cat men journeyed on to Urthipata, a swamp on the Emily plain, journeying, as they went northwards, close by, but not actually along, the tracks of the Unjiamba women who had travelled in the opposite direction. Here they made Engwura and found a man and woman both of whom belonged to the Unjiamba totem; the man was a Purula and the woman a Kumara. Each of them possessed a Nurtunja and quabara undattha, and when the Achilpa men attempted to interfere with the woman they could not do so because of her quabara. Leaving here they were seen by a Purula man of the witchetty grub totem 1 who had originated in the locality, but as he hid himself the Achilpa did not see him.
The next camping place was at a small hill on the Emily Plains on the top of which a stone arose to mark the spot; here they made Ampurtanurra, 2 that is a long series of ceremonies concerned with the Achilpa totem, and then they went on to Okirra-kulitha, a depression in the Macdonnell Range a little to the east of the Emily gap. They camped right on the top of the range, performed quabara undattha, and also the rite of Ariltha on some of their young men, and then went on eastwards for five or six miles to a hill called Irpai-chinga near to the Emily Creek and performed some more ceremonies. Here they noticed plenty of witchetty grubs, feeding on grass, but they did not interfere with them
and went on to Achilpa-interninja, a hill about two miles away from the Emily soakage. Owing to the breaking of the string with which a bundle was tied together, they lost a small Churinga, from which sprung afterwards a Purula man named Ultanchika, whose descendant now lives at Alice Springs; then they went on to Okilla-la-tunga, a plain amongst the ranges, and there found a Purula woman of the Unjiamba totem whose name also was Unjiamba, and who possessed a Nurtunja and quabara undattha, which she showed to the Achilpa men, who danced round her Nurtunja and then showed her their quabara undattha. Then they went on to Ulir-ulira, which means the place where blood flowed like a creek, and is a water-pool on the Todd Creek. The young men opened veins in their arms and gave draughts of blood to the old men, who were very tired. Ever afterwards the water at this spot was tinted with a reddish colour; indeed it is so at the present day. After again making Ampurtanurra they journeyed on and came to a place called Ertua, where they saw two women of the Ertua (wild turkey) totem, one a Purula named Ulknatawa, who had a little boy child, and the other a Kumara. An old Kumara man of the same totem lived with these women, but was out hunting at the time. His name was Arungurpa, and he was the husband of the Purula woman. The women had neither Nurtunja nor quabara undattha. Passing on, the Achilpa camped at Arapera, a big stone hill to the east of Bond Springs, where they stopped for some time making Engwura and performing Ariltha. Here they found a Purula woman of the Achilpa totem whose name was Ariltha-mariltha, and who has a descendant now living. She had a large Nurtunja which was erected and stood so high that it was seen by the Achilpa from a long way off. The woman showed her quabara undattha, and they afterwards performed Atna ariltha-kuma upon her, and then all of them had intercourse with her. At this spot they left one man, a Kumara named Achilpa, whose descendant is now alive. Leaving Arapera they reached Ilchinga and, being tired, camped for a few hours, the old men painting the newly-made Urliara with long parallel lines from the feet to the head. Here they found a Bulthara p. 408 woman of the Unjiamba totem named Cho-urka, who had a Nurtunja and quabara undattha, and whose Nanja was a large stone which can still be seen. With her they did not interfere, but after a short rest marched on to a place called Ungwurna-la-warika, which means “where the bone was struck,” because here one of the men while swinging a Churinga accidentally struck another man on the shin with it. At this spot they found two Bulthara women of the Unjiamba totem, one named Choarka-wuka, and the other Abmoara, who possessed Nurtunjas and quabara undattha, which they showed to the Achilpa. One Purula man was left behind here. Walking on they came to Ilchi-lira, where they made quabara and found two men of the Unjiamba totem, one a Bulthara named Wultaminna, and the other a Kumara named Ungarulinga, the last descendant of whom has recently died. There was here another Unjiamba man whom they did not see. They also saw one Unjiamba woman, a Bulthara. All these people had Nurtunjas and sacred ceremonies, and had originated on the spot. The Achilpa left behind them one Purula man.
The next stopping place was Ituka-intura, a hill at the head of the Harry Creek, where they found a large number of Achilpa men and women with whom they mixed. These people were of all classes and had sprung up on the spot. After having performed Ariltha upon a great number of men and made Engwura they left the local Achilpa behind and marched on to Arara. Here they remained for a long time and made Engwura; when doing this the Kauaua, or sacred pole, was always erected and made to lean in the direction in which they intended to travel. Starting on their travels once more they came near to a spot on the Harry Creek where they first smelt, and then saw, some Achilpa men who were suffering from Erkincha. These men had no women, but close to them lived two Unjiamba women, both of whom were Panunga. The latter hid themselves on the approach of the Achilpa and so escaped being seen by them. One of them was called Thai-interinia, and has a living descendant. After seeing the men with Erkincha the party moved on and camped on a tableland close by, where they found an Unjiamba woman p. 409 named Ultundurinia, who has now a living descendant. Marching on towards the west, they reached Ungunja and found there a Panunga man of the Unjiamba totem, whose name was Ultaintika, who is now represented by a living descendant. Then they followed the course of the Harry Creek to Apunga, until finally they came out on to the Burt Plain which lies just to the north of the Macdonnell Ranges. Here there was no water and the old men were very thirsty; they dug for water without finding any and the holes which they dug out remain to the present day. The young men again bled themselves, but the blood was too hot to drink, so some of them were sent back to Ituka-intura to bring water which they carried back in their shields. While the young men were away, the old men dug out holes in the sand and lay down in them as wild dogs do. At this spot they found a Purula woman of the Quirra (bandicoot) totem who had a Nurtunja, and is now represented by a living descendant. They also found a Panunga man of the same totem named Chimurinia, who also has a living descendant. Hence they moved on northwards to a big clay pan called Ilthwarra, where they performed Ariltha upon a number of their young men and made Engwura. While travelling on from here they crossed the Hamm Range at a gap where they saw an old Bulthara man of the Undathirka (carpet-snake) totem named Kapirla who lived entirely upon carpet-snakes. The Achilpa men passed on and camped at Ilchinia-pinna, a little to the north of the range and here they made Engwura and every night heard the sound of distant Nammatwinnas (or small bull-roarers). Thence they went to Utachuta, a little to the west of what is now called Ryans Well, where they found a large number of Quirra or bandicoot men who were engaged in making an Engwura. The Kauaua which these men had erected was visible from some distance, and it was from this place that the sounds of the bull-roarers had come. The Achilpa and Quirra men mixed together and joined in the Engwura, the old men of both parties sending the young men out into the bush every day. The rite of Ariltha was performed on all of the Quirra men and also on some of the Achilpa, and it is stated that the Quirra men consisted of all classes.
When the ceremonies were completed, the Achilpa men journeyed on to Inta-tella-warika and, being too tired to carry it, dragged the Kauaua behind them. At this place they found an old Panunga man of the Achilpa totem who had a large Nurtunja, and who, on seeing them approach, opened a vein in his arm and thus flooding the country, drowned the Achilpa men in blood; a large number of stones sprang up to mark the spot, and they still remain to show where the men went into the ground. The men carried with them a very large number of Churinga, which are now in the sacred store-house at Inta-tella-warika.
The third party of Achilpa or wild cat people consisted of one division of the original group which came out of the country now occupied by the Luritcha tribe, and split into two after arriving at Yungurra.
Under the direction of a Kumara man who was Atnimma-la-truripa, the men took a north-westerly course, crossed the Finke river just where it emerges from the long Finke gorge, through which, hemmed in between lofty walls of quartzite, it passes from north to south across the James Range, and camped at Urapitchera near to a spot now called Running Waters. Here they erected the Kauaua, which they carried with them, and made an Engwura. At this place they found a number of Inturrita (plgeon) men and women of all classes who were cannibals. The Achilpa people saw them eating human flesh, and two large round Churinga which are preserved in the sacred store-house at Urapitchera represent the heads of men who were eaten.
The Inturrita killed their victims with long stone Churinga about the size of, and shaped like, the beaked boomerangs of the Warramunga tribe. At this spot the Achilpa changed their language to that of the Arunta people, and, leaving a Purula man behind them, passed on to Itnunthawarra in the present Waterhouse Range, where they camped for a short time and performed ceremonies. Travelling slowly northwards amongst the ranges they came to Iruntira on the Hugh river, where they left one man, a Bulthara whose name was Iruntirinia. Then they came to Okir-okira, a place ten miles to the north-west of the present Owen Springs, and p. 411 thence travelled on to the junction of the Jay and Hugh where there was a Panunga woman living who showed them her ceremonies. She belonged to the Alk-na-innira (a large beetle) totem. The Achilpa in return showed the woman some of their ceremonies and did not interfere with her. Leaving her, the Achilpa followed up the Jay Creek to Chelperla, where some time was spent in performing Ampurtanurra, and where the old leader remained behind. At this spot many of the party developed Erkincha. Journeying on they came to Mount Conway, a bold lofty bluff in the Macdonnell Ranges, and close to its base they rested for a few hours before attempting the steep ascent. Then they crossed the mountain and camped at Ningawarta, a little way over on the northern side of the range, and here they performed ceremonies. Their next stopping place was Alla (the nose), a sharply outlined hill in the most northern of the series of parallel ridges which all together form the Macdonnell Ranges. At this place they made Engwura and while the young men, who were being initiated, were out in the bush, they came across a Purula woman of the Ulchilkinja (wattle seed) totem, with whom, contrary to one of the most rigid rules by which the Engwura is governed, and without the knowledge of the old men, they all had intercourse. At Alla, two men who were Kumara were left behind, and the party went on to Kuringbungwa, and as, when they reached there, some of the old men were getting very thin, the younger men opened veins in their arms and, to strengthen them, gave them large draughts of blood, by which treatment they were much benefited. At Enaininga, a waterhole on the Jay Creek, they performed the rite of Ariltha upon a number of young men, leaving untouched those who were suffering from Erkincha. Further on, at Iranira, they again performed the rite of Ariltha, and here they left one man called Unatta who was a Purula. Then they went on to Okinchalanina, where they performed ceremonies, and elaborately painted the backs of all the men. They stayed here a short time making Okinchalanina (necklets), kulchea (armlets), and uliara (forehead bands), and when they again started to march on they left one man, a p. 412 Panunga, behind them, as he was too ill with Erkincha to walk any further. They considered that the unlawful intercourse with the wattle seed woman had spread the disease and increased their sufferings. 1 Still travelling amongst the ranges, they camped at various places, at one of which, called Lilpuririka, which means running like a creek, the old men were again nourished with blood given to them by the young men. Leaving behind them an old Panunga man who was suffering from Erkincha, they travelled on to Ilartwiura, a waterhole on the Jay Creek, and erecting their Kauaua, they performed sacred ceremonies, a large rockhole now marking the spot where the Kauaua stood. Some more men developed Erkincha here. At their last stopping place amongst the ranges they stayed some little time, making Ampurtanurra and performing Ariltha, and then they crossed the most northerly of the rocky ridges amongst the Macdonnell Ranges, and came down on to the Burt Plain which stretches far away to the north. At Alpirakircha they found an old Kumara man of the Achilpa totem named Alpirakircharinia, who had originated there and had a very large Nurtunja which they had been able to see from the top of the last ridge which they had crossed. They performed Ariltha here upon a number of young men, including the local Achilpa man, and also made Engwura. Leaving the man in his camp, they went on to the west, away down the Burt Plain, and met two Achilpa women who had originated there. One was a Purula and the other a Kumara, and they had a Nurtunja which they hid away when they saw the Achilpa men coming. Without interfering with the women, the men camped and performed certain ceremonies, and then went on to Ungatha where a man was left behind named Ungutharinia. This man, like many of the party, was suffering from Erkincha; at the present day he is represented by a living descendant whose secret name is, of course, Ungatharinia.
Being now very tired the men went underground and
followed a northerly course until they came to Udnirringintwa, where they made a great Engwura. Many of the party died here from Erkincha, and a large number of Churinga representing them are in the local store-house. A large sand hill also arose to mark the spot where the Parra, that is the long low mound always made on the Engwura ground, was raised, and this hill can be seen at the present day. The surviving members of the party—still a large one—went once more into the ground and came out again at Alkirra-lilima, where they camped for a long time and made Ampurtanurra. They found there an old man of the Panunga class and Unjiamba totem whose name was Alkaiya, and who had a big Nurtunja and owned quabara undattha. Here again more men developed Erkincha. Travelling now above ground, they came to Achichinga in the vicinity of Mount Wells, where dwelt an old Panunga man of the Unjiamba totem, whose name was Achichingarinia. He possessed a large Nurtunja which the leader of the Achilpa men tried to take by force, but the old man clung to it so closely, and made such a very loud arriinkuma 1 that he was forced to desist.
The party here made quabara undattha and changed its language to Achicha, which is a mixture of the Ilpirra and Kaitish tongues. Turning round they looked back upon their tracks and all said “We have come very far.”
Leaving here they passed Parachinta, without seeing the Ullakupera and Quirra people who dwelt there, and camped at Appulya, north of Parachinta, and close by here saw an old Bulthara man of the Irritcha (eagle hawk) totem, who was out hunting and so had not got his Nurtunja with him, but when he saw the Achilpa men he ran back to his own country. Ariltha was performed upon some of the young men, and an Engwura was made. Then they went on to Arrarakwa, on Woodeforde Creek, where they found a
[paragraph continues] Panunga man of the Achilpa totem who was busily engaged in making a Nurtunja. Upon him and others they performed Ariltha, and then, for some time, they camped at a spot higher up the creek making Ampurtanurra. At this part, the creek has a steep, high bank, which arose to mark the exact spot where the Kauaua rested against it before being erected. Here they left a Bulthara man and then went on to a place on the Hanson Creek, to the south-west of Central Mount Stuart, where they found an old Bulthara man of the Yarumpa (honey-ant) totem who was sitting by the side of a Kauaua, and they learned that Engwura ceremonies had just been made, and that all the young men were out in the bush. By and by they returned, and then the two parties mixed together, and the Achilpa performed Ariltha upon all the Yarumpa, including young and old men, and then commenced another Engwura which they did not wait to complete, but, leaving the Yarumpa people to finish it, they started on their journey and travelled on to Kurdaitcha, a spot to the west of Central Mount Stuart, where dwelt a large number of Achilpa of all classes who had originated there. After performing Ariltha upon all of them, the two parties mixed together and made a big Engwura. Going still further on, they met with a number of men and women belonging to all classes and to the Intilyapa-yapa (water beetle) totem, close to whom they camped, but without mixing with them. At a place called Okinyumpa an accident befell them which made them all feel very sad; as they were pulling up the Kauaua which was very deeply implanted the old Oknirabata, who was leading them, broke it off just above the ground, and to the present day a tall stone standing up above the ground at this spot represents the broken, and still implanted, end of the pole.
Carrying on the broken Kauaua they came to Unjiacherta, which means “the place of Unjiamba men” and lies near to the Hanson Creek. They arrived here utterly tired out, and found a number of Unjiamba men and women of all classes. They were too tired and sad to paint themselves, their Kauaua in its broken state was inferior to many of those which the Unjiamba people had, so they did not erect it, but, lying down together, died where they lay. A large hill, covered with big p. 415 stones, arose to mark the spot. Their Churinga, each with its associated spirit individual, remained behind. Many of them are very large and long, and are now in the Ertnatulunga or store-house at Unjiacherta.
The fourth party of Achilpa or wild cat people was led by a Purula man who was remarkable for his strength and abnormal development, in which respect he is reported to have exceeded the celebrated Atnimma-la-truripa. He came from the country now inhabited by the Luritcha people, far away to the south-west of the Arunta, and brought with him two Panunga women. He had a Kauaua, and carried under each arm a large bundle called Unkapera which, when he arrived at Erloacha, a place situated to the west of Hermannsburg on the Finke river, he opened. They contained a great number of men of various ages. After the parcels had been opened, a great Engwura was made, in which they all took part, and, after remaining here for a long time, they left two men behind, one a Panunga and the other a Purula, and then they travelled on. The old Purula who was leading them travelled at some little distance to one side of the main party, and his progress was slow owing to the size of his penis, which frequently struck the ground, digging furrows in it as he went along. While travelling they met at Yapilpa, a place now called Glen Helen Gorge, a party of Unthippa or dancing women, who were approaching from the west, dancing all the way along. With them the Achilpa men did not interfere but passed on, crossed the range, and then camped at Ulpmaltwitcha, a waterhole lying a little to the west of the position of Mount Sonder. After making quabara undattha they went on and crossed Mount Sonder, which is one of the highest peaks in the Macdonnell Ranges. While crossing they saw an old Illuta (bandicoot) man making large wooden pitchis, and therefore they called the place Urichipma, which means “the place of pitchis.” 1 Here they paused and, presumably from the summit from which a very extensive view is to be obtained, looked back to see their tracks and a row of stones arose and still
remains to mark the spot. They went on and camped at Kurupma, north of Glen Helen, and after holding an Engwura, they left one man, an old Purula named Kurupmarinia, whose aged descendant now lives there and has charge of the store-house and Engwura ceremonies.
Leaving here they proceeded to Poara, where they performed Ariltha and made Engwura, and where they also found a number of women of the Kakwa (hawk) totem, all of whom were Purula and some of whom were called Illapurinja. 1 These women had a Nurtunja and sacred ceremonies which they showed to the Achilpa men. The old leader of the latter had intercourse with a great number of the women, many of the younger ones dying in consequence. The Urliara, that is the fully initiated men who had been through the Engwura, were also allowed access to them. Leaving behind several men of the Kumara and Purula classes the men, being ashamed of their excesses, started before daylight and travelled on to Irpungarthra, a water-hole on a creek running northwards. Here they camped and found a Purula woman of the Arawa totem. She had no Nurtunja but was in possession of several wooden Churinga which she hid away on the approach of the party. Here they made quabara undattha, which the woman was allowed to see, and afterwards Ariltha was performed upon some members of the party. Journeying on, they came to Al-lemma, a water-hole in one of the gorges which are often met with in this part of the country, and here they found a number of Kakwa (hawk) women and men who were all Purula and Kumara, and with whom they did not mix. They camped apart from them and then moved on to Ariltha, where they changed their language to the Ilpirra tongue and camped here for a long time, finding again a number of hawk men and women all of the same classes as before. Here the old leader caused his abnormal development to disappear and he became like an ordinary man, and then the travelling and resident groups mixed together. After the performance of Ariltha, a big Engwura was made, the women, as at the present day, making fur-string necklaces and armlets. Thence they went on to a place in the scrub not far from Lake
[paragraph continues] Macdonald, where they found as before another lot of hawk men and women. Here they performed ceremonies and left one Kumara man whose descendant is now living. Then they went to Irincha, a large clay pan, where they found a Panunga man of the Irpunga (fish) totem who was engaged in catching fish, of which the water was full. They were afraid of the number of fish in the water and did not interfere with the man, whose name was Ungunawungarinia, but camped a little distance away, making Ampurtanurra, and stayed here a long time. Then they went on to Alknalilika, a spot lying to the south of Anna's Reservoir, where they found a number of Tulkara (quail) women who had no Nurtunja or Churinga and lived entirely on Intwuta, a kind of grass seed. Upon seeing these women the Achilpa men hid away their Kauaua and all had intercourse with them. Without performing any ceremonies they went on to Inkuraru, where Ariltha was performed upon a number of the party. A number of Churinga were deposited in a mulga tree close to the camp, where they still remain, and a large stone arose at the spot where Ariltha was performed. After crossing one range they came to another lying away to the north and called Irti-ipma, where was a large waterhole. Here they camped, made quabara undattha and left one man, a Bulthara, and then journeyed on, meeting a woman of the Tchanka (bull-dog ant) totem who was a kind of Oruncha (“devil-devil”) creature of whom they were much afraid, thinking that she might bite them. She had neither Nurtunja nor Churinga, and giving her a wide berth they went on to Kuntitcha, where they camped and found a large number of Quirra (bandicoot) men who were unable to walk, in fact they were creatures like the Inapertwa. All of these were killed, and then Ariltha was performed and an Engwura held. One man, a Purula named Kuntitcharinia, was left behind whose descendant is still living.
Tradition says that from here they journeyed northwards and finally stopped in the country of the salt water forming Oknanikilla or local totem centres as they travelled along.
THE LATER ALCHERINGA
We have already seen that, according to the traditions of the middle Alcheringa, there were no restrictions to marriage such as now obtain. At Urthipita, for example, a Purula man and a Kumara woman, both of the Unjiamba (Hakea flower) totem, are represented as having been found living together by the Achilpa people. Again at Ertua there lived two Ertua or wild turkey women, one of whom is expressly stated to have had a child, and to have been the wife of an old Kumara man of the same totem; and at other places groups of hawk men and women, all of the Purula and Kumara classes, who may not now marry one another, are represented as living together.
The class names had been given in the first place by the Ullakupera men who had traversed the country prior to the advent of the Achilpa. It looks much as if the traditions relating to the middle Alcheringa were concerned with a people whose organisation and marriage system were very different from those of the present Arunta tribe. The traditions as we know them now cannot, in respect to this matter, be simply explained by supposing that the references to the classes and totems are due to the fact that they have grown up amongst a people who have these class and totem names. If it were nothing more than this, then we should not expect to find such specific references to the living together of Purula and Kumara men and women, which is exactly the reverse of what now takes place, and is, by the natives, regarded as having taken place ever since the later Alcheringa times. It seems as if the traditions can only be explained on the supposition that the class names which were given by the Ullakupera men entailed restrictions upon marriage, but restrictions which were of a different kind from those introduced at a later period. What these restrictions were, it does not seem possible to gather from the traditions concerned with the early and middle Alcheringa times, and there do not appear to be any now known to the natives which throw any light upon the matter, though perhaps the constant reference to the class and totem names may be p. 419 regarded as evidence that restrictions of some nature did exist. One thing appears to be quite clear, and that is, that we see in these early traditions no trace whatever of a time when the totems regulated marriage in the way now characteristic of many of the Australian tribes. There is not a solitary fact which indicates that a man of one totem must marry a woman of another; on the contrary we meet constantly, and only, with groups of men and women of the same totem living together; and, in these early traditions, it appears to be the normal condition for a man to have as wife a woman of the same totem as himself. At the same time there is nothing to show definitely that marital relations were prohibited between individuals of different totems, though, in regard to this, it must be remembered that the instances recorded in the traditions, in which intercourse took place between men and women of different totems, are all concerned with the men of special groups, such as the Achilpa; further still, it may be pointed out that these were powerful groups who are represented as marching across country, imposing certain rites and ceremonies upon other people with whom they came in contact. The intercourse of the Achilpa men with women of other totems may possibly have been simply a right, forcibly exercised by what may be regarded as a conquering group, and may have been subject to no restrictions of any kind.
As to the people with whom the Achilpa came into contact, and whom they found settled upon the land, the one most striking and at the same time most interesting fact, is, as just stated, that a man was free to marry a woman of his own totem (as he is at the present day), and further still we may even say that the evidence seems to point back to a time when a man always married a woman of his own totem. The references to men and women of one totem always living together in groups would appear to be too frequent and explicit to admit of any other satisfactory explanation. We never meet with an instance of a man living with a woman who was not of his own totem 1 as we surely might expect to
do if the form of the traditions were simply due to their having grown up amongst a people with the present organisation of the Arunta tribe. It is only, during these early times, when we come into contact with a group of men marching across strange country that we meet, as we might expect to do, with evidence of men having intercourse with women other than those of their own totem.
Turning now to the later Alcheringa period, we find that it was after the time of the Ungambikula, the Ullakupera and the Achilpa, that the organisation now in vogue was adopted. The present system of marriage, and a proper understanding of the class system, is traditionally ascribed to the wisdom of the Erlia (emu) people of four widely separated localities. The Oknirabata, or great leader of the Thurathertwa group, living near to what is now called Glen Helen in the Macdonnell Range, proposed a system which permitted of Panunga men marrying Purula women, and of Bulthara men marrying Kumara women, and vice versa. According to this, men and women who now stand in the relation of Unkulla, as well as those standing in the present relation of Unawa, could marry each other. His proposal was carried out in his immediate neighbourhood, and he was also supported by the Oknirabata of the southern emu people living at a place called Umbachinga.
The Oknirabata of the Ulalkira and Urliipma groups, who lived about one hundred miles to the north, were what is called Charunka, which means very wise, and they said that it was not good for Unkulla to marry. At a meeting between them and the two other Oknirabata, it was decided that the plan of the northern men was the better one, and made, as the natives say, things go straight, and it was decided to adopt the new system.
Tradition says that the Oknirabata of one of the northern emu groups living at Urliipma, sent out Inwurra, that is messengers carrying the sacred Churinga, to summon the people from all directions. They assembled at Urliipma, which is situated in the country of the Ilpirra tribe away to the north of the Macdonnell Range, and were led thence by the Oknirabata, whose name was Ungwurnalitha, to Apaura, now called the Belt Range, where a great Engwura was held. p. 421 After this was over all the people stood up, each man with his wife or wives behind him, and those who were wrongly united were separated, and the women were allotted to their proper Unawa men. The old man Ungwurnalitha presided at the Engwura, and he was assisted by old emu men of Ulalkira, Thuratherita, Umbuchinia and other places, all of whom had agreed with him that the change should be introduced.
The intermarrying halves stood in the relationship of Unawa to each other, this term being a reciprocal one, while the other halves were Unkulla to each other. Thus if we take the case of a Panunga man, under the old system all Purula women were eligible to him as wives, but under the new one only half of the Purula were Unawa to him, and half were Unkulla; with the former, or rather with those of them assigned to him, he might have marital relations, but the latter were strictly forbidden to him.
Taking all these traditions together we can see in them indications, more or less clear, of the following stages which are supposed by the natives to have been passed through in the development of the tribe so far as its organisation and certain important customs are concerned.
(1.) A period during which two individuals who lived in the western sky, and were called Ungambikula, came down to earth and transformed Inapertwa creatures into human beings whose totem names were naturally those of the animals or plants out of which they were transformed. The Ungambikula also performed the rite of circumcision on certain, but not all, of the men, using for this purpose a fire-stick.
(2.) A period during which the Ullakupera or little hawk men introduced the use of the stone knife during circumcision. In addition they carried on the work commenced by the Ungambikula of transforming Inapertwa creatures into human beings, and further still, they introduced the class names now in use, viz. Panunga, Purula, Bulthara, Kumara. We may presume that along with the introduction of the class names there was instituted in connection with them some system of marriage regulations, but what exactly this was, there is not sufficient evidence to show.
(3.) A period, following closely upon the latter, during which the Achilpa or wild cat men introduced the rite of Ariltha or sub-incision. It is said of the Achilpa, also, that they arranged the initiation ceremonies in their proper order, first circumcision, then sub-incision, and lastly the Engwura.
(4.) A period during which, first of all, the marriage system was changed owing to the influence of certain Erlia or emu people, with the result that Purula men might marry Panunga women, Bulthara men Kumara women, and vice versa. Secondly, and at a later period, each of these classes was divided into two, so that, to a Panunga man, for example, only half of the Purula women were eligible as wives, the other half being Unkulla or forbidden to him.
It is not without interest to note that, according to tradition, the emu men who introduced the division of the classes now in use, lived away to the north, because the adoption of the distinctive names for the eight groups thus created is at the present time taking place in the Arunta tribe, and, as a matter of actual fact, these eight names did originate in the north, and are now slowly spreading southwards through the tribe.
387:* A folding map referring to this chapter is attached to the inside back cover of this book.
388:1 Though it is scarcely credible that there can be any tradition relating to a time so far past, yet it is a remarkable coincidence that this tradition reflects what geological evidence shows to have been the case, so far as the existence of a great inland sea is concerned.
388:2 In the Report of the Horn Expedition, vol. iv., p. 184, this word was written Inaperlwa, and translated “Echidna,” or “Native Porcupine.” The spelling and explanation now given are the correct ones.
390:1 The locality of the various places named is indicated on the maps.
394:1 This term is applied to a man who is especially learned in all matters appertaining to tribal customs and traditions; the term is never applied except to old men, and is regarded as a very high distinction.
394:2 In the southern Arunta tradition ascribes the introduction of a stone knife for this purpose to an old woman of the Unchichera or frog totem.
401:1 We have translated the word ura-ilyabara by the usual term fire-stick. In reality ilyabara means a piece of bark.
401:2 It is not perhaps without interest to note that even in savage tribes, such as those of Central Australia, we meet with evidence of the remarkable way in which ancient customs are preserved in connection with “sacred” rites. The retention of the fire-stick at circumcision after the use of stone implements was evidently known, finds its parallel in the retention of stone implements for the same operation after the use of iron was well known. Cf. Tylor, Early History of Mankind 3rd Edit., 1878, p. 217.
406:1 This is one of the very few cases in which the Alcheringa witchetty grubs were not Panunga or Bulthara.
406:2 Various totems have a name similar to this which is applied to a long series of ceremonies concerned with that special totem. In the owl totem, for example, it is Latunpa.
412:1 This does not mean that they reasoned from a strictly medical point of view; their idea in a case of this kind is that a man suffering from Erkincha conveys a magic evil influence, which they call Arungquiltha, to the women, and by this means it is conveyed, as a punishment, to other men.
413:1 This is a loud sound made by shouting au-au-au repeatedly, while the hand is held with the fingers slightly bent, and the palm towards the face, and moved rapidly backwards and forwards upon the wrist in front of the mouth. It is frequently used by the natives to attract the attention of any one at a distance. During the Engwura ceremony, for example, it was the signal used to call up the men who had been away from the ground while the ceremony was being prepared.
415:1 The natives of this part of the country are noted for the large pitchis, or wooden troughs, which they make out of the wood of the bean tree (Erythrina vespertilio).
416:1 Ilalpurinja means “the changed one.”
419:1 That is in connection with those groups with whom the various wandering parties came in contact. The members of all wandering parties appear to have had intercourse more or less freely with women of other totems.