The Native Tribes of North Central Australia, by Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen , at sacred-texts.com
Three methods of making medicine men—Those made by the Iruntarinia—Those made by the Oruncha—Those made by other medicine men—Description of the ceremonies attendant upon the initiation in each case—Functions of the medicine men—Pointing a bone or stick—Various forms of pointing sticks—Injilla—Irna—Ullinka—The methods of using them—Charming a spear—“Singing” a wound made with such a weapon—The hair of a dead man—Fur string ornaments of a dead man—Distribution of the hair girdle, armlets, etc., of a dead man—Ililika or knout—The Tchintu, supposed to contain the heat of the sun—Obtaining wives by magic—Namatwinna, a small Churinga which is swung round, the sound being supposed to reach the woman—Charming a forehead band—Instance of this—Only women whom the man can lawfully marry must be charmed—A man will be assisted by particular individuals in retaining a woman obtained by charming—Use of the Lonka-lonka as a charm—Use of the “trumpet” or Ulpirra—Churinga of a rat totem used to secure growth of beard—Churinga of a fly totem used to cure bad eyes—“Poison” stones of the Kaitish—Women and magic—Punishment of a man who has charmed away a woman and of the woman by means of magic—Sympathetic magic—Arungquiltha of various forms—Blowing spittle.
THE individuals to whom the name of medicine men is usually given—though perhaps the term magic men or wizards would in certain respects be better—have a very considerable influence in the tribe. Before dealing with their powers we may first of all describe the way in which a man is admitted to the status of medicine man.
In the Arunta, and the same holds true of the Ilpirra tribe, there are three distinct schools of medicine men—(1) those made by the Iruntarinia or spirits, (2) those made by the Oruncha who are in reality only a special class of spirit individuals of a mischievous nature, and (3) those initiated by other medicine men. Sometimes the three kinds of practitioners practise side by side, but the two first are more highly thought of than the third. In the northern groups p. 523 of the tribe the medicine man is called a Railtchawa, on the Finke River Nung-gara, and in the south at Charlotte Waters, Ingwalara.
As an example of the making of medicine men by the Iruntarinia in the northern groups as well as in the Ilpirra tribe, we will describe what is said to take place in connection with the initiation of a man of the Alice Springs group.
About fourteen miles to the south of Alice Springs there is a cave in a range of hills which rises to the north of a wide level stretch of country, now called the Emily plain. This cave, like all those in the range, is supposed to be occupied by the Iruntarinia, or spirit individuals, each one of whom is in reality the double of one of the ancestors of the tribe who lived in the Alcheringa, or in other words of some living member, as each one of these is but the reincarnation of one of these ancestors. Amongst other powers possessed by the Iruntarinia is that of making medicine men.
When any man feels that he is capable of becoming one, he ventures away from the camp quite alone until he comes to the mouth of the cave. Here, with considerable trepidation, he lies down to sleep, not venturing to go inside, or else he would, instead of becoming endowed with magic power, be spirited away for ever. At break of day, one of the Iruntarinia comes to the mouth of the cave, and, finding the man asleep, throws at him an invisible lance which pierces the neck from behind, passes through the tongue, making therein a large hole, and then comes out through the mouth. The tongue remains throughout life perforated in the centre with a hole large enough to admit the little finger; and when all is over, this hole is the only visible and outward sign of the treatment of the Iruntarinia. How the hole is really made it is impossible to say, but as shown in the illustration it is always present in the genuine medicine man. In some way of course the novice must make it himself; but naturally no one will ever admit the fact, indeed it is not impossible that, in course of time, the man really comes to believe that it was not done by himself. A second lance thrown by the Iruntarinia pierces the head from ear to ear, and the victim falls dead and is at once carried into the depths of the cave, p. 524 which extends far under the plain and is supposed to terminate at a spot beneath what is called the Edith Range, ten miles distant.
The name of the cave, of which the natives have a superstitious dread, is Okalparra, and in it the Iruntarinia are supposed to live in perpetual sunshine and amongst streams of running water—a state of affairs which we may regard as the paradise of the Arunta native. Once, not very long ago, two natives, so says tradition, not knowing the nature of the cave, entered it in search of water, and were never more heard of.
Within the cave the Iruntarinia removes all the internal organs and provides the man with a completely new set, after which operation has been successfully performed he presently comes to life again, but in a condition of insanity.
This, however, does not last long, and when he has recovered to a certain extent the Iruntarinia, who is invisible except to a few highly-gifted medicine men and also to the dogs, leads him back to his own people. The spirit then returns to the cave, but for several days the man remains more or less strange in his appearance and behaviour until one morning it is noticed that he has painted with powdered charcoal and fat a broad band across the bridge of his nose. All signs of insanity have disappeared, and it is at once recognised that a new medicine man p. 525 has graduated. According to etiquette he must not practise his profession for about a year, and if during this time of probation the hole in his tongue closes up, as it sometimes does, then he will consider that his virtues as a medicine man have departed, and he will not practise at all. Meanwhile, he dwells upon his experiences, doubtless persuading himself that he has actually passed through those which are recognised as accompanying the making of a medicine man by the Iruntarinia, and at the same time he cultivates the acquaintance of other medicine men, and learns from them the secrets of the craft, which consist principally in the ability to hide about his person and to produce at will small quartz pebbles or bits of stick; and, of hardly less importance than this sleight of hand, the power of looking preternaturally solemn, as if he were the possessor of knowledge quite hidden from ordinary men.
In addition to providing him with a new set of internal organs the Iruntarinia is supposed to implant in his body a supply of magic Atnongara stones, which he is able to project into the body of a patient, and so to combat the evil influences at work within. So long as these stones remain in his body he is capable of performing the work of a medicine man, but sometimes they are for some reason withdrawn, in which event they are supposed to return to the Iruntarinia from whom they came, and with their departure the man feels at once that his powers have also departed. What causes the man to become convinced that the Atnongara stones have gone from him cannot be said; but every now and again an erstwhile medicine man is met with who tells you that they have gone away from him. There are certain foods from which the medicine man must abstain at risk of losing his powers. He may not for instance eat fat or warm meat, neither must he inhale the smoke from burning bones, nor go near to the nest of the large “bull-dog” ant (a species of Myrmecia), because if he were bitten by one of these he would lose his powers for ever. The loud barking of the camp dogs will sometimes also cause the Atnongara stones to take flight.
With regard to the second school of medicine men—those made by the Oruncha, that is, by the Ulthana or spirits of p. 526 Oruncha men of the Alcheringa—the plan of procedure is essentially similar to that of the Iruntarinia, the only difference being that instead of being taken by the Oruncha into a special cave, he is taken down into the earth at the spot at which the Oruncha lives. Close by Alice Springs, for example, in a rough rocky hill lives the Oruncha of Chauritji, as the spot is called, and occasionally he seizes upon a man, takes him into the earth and makes him into a medicine man.
Women doctors, though of rare occurrence, are occasionally met with, and are usually made by Oruncha, but sometimes by Iruntarinia, the method of initiation being precisely similar in the case of the women to that of the men.
In the case of the third school, that is, the medicine men made by other medicine men, the method of procedure is naturally quite different, and the following is an account of what took place at the making of one on the Upper Finke River.
The young man who desired to be initiated spoke to two old medicine men, one of whom had been initiated by the Iruntarinia and the other by an Oruncha, and told them what he wanted; and on the following morning the latter, who are here called Nung-gara, took him along with another man to a secluded spot, and there they first of all made him stand up with his hands clasped behind his head, and told him that whatever happened he was to maintain perfect silence. The Nung-gara then withdrew from their bodies a number of small clear crystals called Ultunda (the equivalents of the Atnongara of the Alice Springs and other parts in the north of the tribe), which were placed one by one as they were extracted in the hollow of a spear-thrower. When a sufficient number had been withdrawn, the Nung-gara directed the man who had come with them to clasp the candidate from behind and to hold him tightly. Then each of them picked up some crystals, and taking hold of a leg, gripped the stones firmly and pressed them slowly and strongly along the front of the leg and then up the body as high as the breast-bone. This was repeated three times, the skin being scored at intervals with scratches, from which blood flowed. By this means the magic crystals are supposed to be forced into the body of the p. 527 p. 528 man, who was now told to lie down at full length on his back. The Nung-gara then went some little distance away, and, striking an attitude, pretended to project some of the crystals into the man's head. While doing this the left hand holding some of the crystals was placed on the palm of the right one, and in this position was jerked rapidly backwards and forwards several times. When this was over they came up again and once more subjected the legs and abdomen and this time the arms also to scoring with the stones, after which each of them pressed a crystal on the head of the novice and struck it hard, the idea being to drive it into the skull, the scalp being made to bleed during the process.
The next operation consisted in one of the Nung-gara taking a “pointing stick,” and after having tied some hair string round the middle joint of the first finger of the man's right hand he forced the pointed end of the stick under the nail and for a considerable distance into the flesh, making thus a hole into which he pretended to press a crystal. The man was then told to keep a finger pressed up against the hole so as prevent the stone from coming out, after which he was told to remain perfectly quiet and go to sleep. In the middle of the day the scoring was repeated and again in the evening; after which the Nung-gara gave the man meat to eat in which they told him were Ultunda and after this he was given water, which actually did contain a few small crystals, which he was told were Ultunda, and which, without any hesitation, he drank straight off. On the day following his body was again scored, and he eat meat and drank water containing crystals, and in addition was given native tobacco 1 to chew, which also contained the same.
On the third day the scoring and eating and drinking were repeated, and he was told to stand up with his hands behind his head and to put his tongue out. One of the Nung-gara then withdrew from his skull just behind his ear (that is he told the novice that he kept it there) a thin and sharp Ultunda, and, taking up some dust from the ground, dried the man's tongue with it, and then, pulling it out as far as
possible, he made with the stone an incision about half an inch in length. After a short rest one of the Nung-gara—the one who had been initiated by an Oruncha—rubbed the body of the man over with grease, and then placing him on his back proceeded to paint a special design upon his chest, abdomen and forehead. This design is called Marilla, and it is the ilkinia or sacred drawing of the Oruncha, the mark on the forehead representing what is called orunchilcha, which means, literally translated, “the devil's hand,” the Oruncha being the evil or at least the mischievous spirit of the Arunta. A long black line in the centre of the drawing on the body represents the Oruncha himself, and the marks around it are supposed to represent the magic crystals which he carries in his body. When the drawing was complete the man's fur string bands were placed on his head, and leaves of a gum tree were fixed so as to hang down from beneath them over the forehead, partly hiding the drawing of the Oruncha's hand. The newly made medicine man was then told that he must remain at the Urgunja, that is the men's camp, and maintain a strict silence until the wound in his tongue had healed. He was also told that he must keep his thumb pressed up against the wound in his finger, until this also was healed, or else the magic stone would pass out. For a very long time also he must abstain from eating fat of any kind, nor must he touch the flesh of wild dogs, fish or Echnida. He might eat the marrow of the bones of different animals, but only if the bones were broken and were voluntarily given to him by other men.
When all was over he returned to the camp and remained at the Ungunja for about a month, during which time his Unawa, Mia and Ungaraitcha (but not his Quitia or younger sisters) sent him food. When he had recovered, and the treatment to which he had been subjected left him really in a low state, the Nung-gara men told him that he might go to his own camp; but that for some little time yet, about a month, he must talk very little and must in every way be abstemious. At night time he always slept with a fire between him and his Unawa, the idea of which was to render him visible to the Oruncha and to make it clear to the latter that he was holding aloof from every one, even his Unawa. Should p. 530 he fail to do this, then the Oruncha would cause the magic power to leave him and to return to the old Nung-gara, and thus his powers as a medicine man would disappear for ever.
So far as his functions are concerned the medicine man may be regarded as partly, perhaps in the main, what this name implies, and at the same time as a wizard. His chief function is undoubtedly that of curing the natives; but as all ailments of every kind, from the simplest to the most serious, are without exception attributed to the malign influence of an enemy in either human or spirit shape, the method of curing takes the form of an exhibition of what is really sleight of hand, the object being to remove from the body of the patient something, such as a pointing stick or the broken pieces of a Churinga, which has been placed in it by the enemy. In many Australian tribes the equivalent of the medicine man amongst the Arunta is the one individual who can hold intercourse with the spirits; but in this tribe this is by no means the case, as there are men who, without being medicine men, are especially favoured in this respect. In many tribes also it is only the medicine men or their equivalents who have the power of, for example, securing by means of special incantations the illness or death of the individual whom it is desired to harm, and therefore to secure this end recourse must be had to a medicine man. In the Arunta, Ilpirra and other of the Central Australian tribes, this does not hold true; every man may have recourse to what is usually spoken of as sorcery, by means of which he may work harm of some kind to an enemy, and this power is not in any way confined to the medicine men, though on the other hand they are the only men who can counteract the evil influence of an enemy. At the same time there are certain of the very old medicine men who are supposed to be endowed by the Iruntarinia with the special power of bringing disease down upon not only individuals, but whole groups of men and women.
In cases of sickness the natives have implicit faith in the medicine man, and in serious cases two or three if they be available are called in, in consultation. 1 No reward of any
kind is given, or expected, nor is any blame attached in case of non-success, the latter being attributed to the malignant action of superior magic on the part of some hostile spirit or individual, though it is sometimes said, as we have heard on different occasions, that if a particular medicine man had been present he would have been able to counteract the influence of the enemy when the individual who was present was unable to do so and the patient died. Just as amongst ourselves certain medicine men are regarded as better qualified and more able than others.
In ordinary cases the patient lies down on the ground while the medicine man bends over and sucks vigorously at the affected part of the body, spitting out every now and then supposed pieces of wood, bone or stone, the presence of which is believed to be causing the injury and pain. This suction is one of the most characteristic features of native medical treatment, as pain in any part of the body is at once supposed to be due to the presence of some foreign body which must be removed. Amongst especially the Western Arunta the medicine man in addition to the Atnongara stones is supposed to have a particular kind of lizard distributed through his body, which endows him with great suctorial power, such as the natives attribute to the lizard itself. In serious cases the action is more dramatic, and the medicine man needs a clear space in which to perform. The patient, perhaps too ill to sit up, is supported by some individual, while the medicine man who has been called in and may have come a long distance, gravely examines him and consults with other practitioners who may be present, and with the more immediate relatives of the patient, as to the nature of the illness. The diagnosis may occupy some time, during which every one maintains a very solemn appearance, all conversation being carried on in whispers. As a result the medicine man will perhaps pronounce that the sick man is suffering from a charmed bone inserted by a magic individual, such as a Kurdaitcha; or perhaps, worse still, the verdict is that one of the Iruntarinia has placed in his body an Ullinka or short barbed stick attached to an invisible string, the pulling of which, by the malicious spirit, causes great pain. If the latter p. 532 be the case it requires the greatest skill of a renowned medicine man to effect a cure. While the patient is supported in a half-sitting attitude, the medicine man will first of all stand close by, gazing down upon him in the most intent way. Then suddenly he will go some yards off, and looking fiercely at him will bend slightly forwards and repeatedly jerk his arm outwards at full length, with the hand outstretched, the object being to thereby project some of the Atnongara stones into the patient's body, the object of this being to counteract the evil influence at work within the latter. Going rapidly and with a characteristic high knee action from one end of the cleared space to the other he repeats the movement with dramatic action. Finally, he comes close again, and, after much mysterious searching, finds and cuts the string which is invisible to every one except himself. There is not a doubt amongst the onlookers as to his having really done this. Then once more the projecting of the Atnongara stones takes place, and crouching down over the sick man he places his mouth upon the affected part and sucks, until at last either in fragments or, very rarely, and only if he be a very distinguished medicine man, the Ullinka is extracted whole and shown to the wondering onlookers, the Atnongara stones returning, unseen, once more into his own body. When this is over, unless it is simply a case of senile decay on the part of the patient, in which case the medicine man is too acute to take so much trouble when he knows pretty well that there is no chance of effecting a cure, the chances are strongly in favour of the latter, but if death ensues it is simply because the magic stick has been inserted in some vital part, or because the aid of the medicine man had not been called in early enough, or because his efforts had been maliciously thwarted by some Iruntarinia.
The functions of the medicine man as a wizard or sorcerer are associated with, first, bringing ill upon other people, and second, ascertaining who is responsible for the death of a native. 1
We have already mentioned that certain very old medicine
men are able to bring disease down not only on individuals but upon whole groups of men and women, but this is only, in reality, a further extension of the power possessed by each man of working harm by magic. Amongst, however, certain tribes such as the Mungaberra, living out to the west of the Macdonnell Ranges, the medicine men are supposed to have special powers. They can and often do assume the form of eagle-hawks, and when thus disguised, travel long distances at night time, visiting camps of other tribes, amongst whom they cause much suffering and even death by their habit of digging their sharp claws into people. Only recently, in the presence of one of the authors, a medicine man extracted parts of eagle-hawk claws from a native of the Arunta tribe who had been maliciously attacked in this way at night time by a Mungaberra medicine man.
However, as a wizard, the function of the medicine man is mainly associated with finding out the particular individual who is responsible for the death of any native. Sometimes when a man is dying he will whisper in the ear of the medicine man the name of the culprit, but even if he does not do so, the medicine man will often state as soon as death has taken place the direction in which he lives and very probably the group to which he belongs. It may perhaps be two or three years before he discovers the actual man, but sooner or later he does so. During the progress of the Engwura, which we witnessed, news was brought in to the camp that a very celebrated old man had died far away out to the west. His death was due simply to senile decay, but along with the news of his decease word was brought that he had been killed by a charmed stick pointed at him by a man of a distant group, the locality of which was stated with certainty.
Another duty of the medicine man is, as already described, to accompany the Kurdaitcha, and to assist him by magic power in rendering the victim unconscious of what has befallen him.
In what has just been described in connection with the medicine men, as well as in the account of the Kurdaitcha and Illapurinja, certain forms of magic have been dealt with. There remain however certain other customs which may be p. 534 grouped under the general designation of magic, and which may be conveniently dealt with together.
The first of these, which is one of the commonest forms of magic in many savage tribes, and is indeed world-wide in its distribution, is the pointing of a bone or stick at some individual with the idea of injuring him. Amongst the Arunta tribe these pointing sticks or bones are known under various names, such as Injilla, Irna, Ullinka, Ingwania, and Takula, of which we will describe the nature and uses of the first three as typical examples.
The Injilla is a small bone about six inches long, at one end of which is a small lump of resin procured from the porcupine grass, and round this a few strands of human hair string are wound. It is used by a Kurdaitcha man who places it under the tongue of his victim, its special virtue when thus employed being that it renders the injured man perfectly oblivious of what has befallen him at the hands of the Kurdaitcha. It may also be used for the same purpose as the Irna now to be described.
The Irna is a small piece of wood perhaps as much as nine inches in length, though it may be less than this. At one end it tapers to a point and at the other is tipped with a small lump of porcupine grass resin. The stick is further ornamented with a series of notches which are apparently made with a fire-stick. The Injilla or Irna—both being equally effective—are charmed, that is, are sung over, and thereby endowed with magic power in the following way. The man who has made one goes alone into the bush to some unfrequented spot at a distance from the main camp, taking great care that he is seen by no one. After making quite sure that he is not being watched he chooses a hidden spot for his incantations and places the Injilla or Irna in the ground. Then he crouches down above it and in muttered tones hisses out the following curses:—
“I-ta pukalana purutulinja appinia-a” (May your heart be rent asunder).
“Purtulinja appinaa intaapa inkirilia quin appani intar-pakala-a” (May your backbone be split open and your ribs torn asunder).
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“Okinchincha quin appani ilchi ilchaa-a” (May your head and throat be split open).
When this has been done he returns to his camp leaving the Injilla or the Irna, as the case may be, in the secret spot for three or four days, after which he removes it to within a short distance of the camp. Here he carefully conceals it until it is dark, and then while the natives are sitting chatting round the camp fire he steals out into the darkness, procures the Injilla or Irna, and stealthily approaches the camp until the features of his victim are clearly discernible by the fire light, he himself, of course, keeping carefully out of view. He now turns his back upon his victim and stooping down jerks the Injilla or Irna towards him several times muttering the curse already quoted as he does so in a subdued tone. When this has been done he once more conceals the implement and returns to camp. The victim is within a short time—a month at most—supposed to sicken and die, unless his life be saved by the magic of a medicine man. When the charm takes effect and the victim becomes ill, the man secretly takes away the implement which he has used, and in the case of the Injilla burns the hair string while expressing the wish that the destruction of his enemy's life may be as surely brought about as has been that of the string.
It is common to attribute almost all deaths, or at least a majority of them, to the use of a “poison” bone or stick, and the performance of “pointing” has to be conducted in strict secrecy, as, were any man caught in the act, he would be most severely punished and most likely put to death.
The Ullinka which is always used by the Iruntarinia is a special form of Irna with a hooked end instead of a lump of resin, and is supposed to be a favourite charm used by malevolent spirits to annoy and often to kill men against whom they have some special grudge. The Ullinka is projected into the body of the victim, and the string to which it is attached is every now and then maliciously pulled by the Iruntarinia so as to add to the annoyance and pain of the man. As we have already said, it requires a very able medicine man to abstract one of these so as to make quite sure that there is no part of it left in the body of the victim.
In addition to procuring death by giving an enemy a bone or stick it is a very common thing to charm a spear by singing over it.
Any bone, stick, spear, &c., which has thus been “sung” is supposed to be endowed with what the natives call Arungquiltha, that is magical poisonous properties, and any native who believes that he has been struck by, say, a charmed spear is almost sure to die whether the wound be slight or severe unless he be saved by the counter magic of a medicine man. There is no doubt whatever that a native will die after the infliction of even a most superficial wound if only he believes the weapon which inflicted the wound had been sung over and thus endowed with Arungquiltha. He simply lies down, refuses food and pines away. Not long ago a man from Barrow Creek received a slight wound in the groin. Though there was apparently nothing serious the matter with him, still he persisted in saying that the spear had been charmed and that he must die, which accordingly he did in the course of a few days. Another man coming down to the Alice Springs from the Tennant Creek contracted a slight cold, but the local men told him that the members of a group about twelve miles away to the east had taken his heart out, and believing this to be so he simply laid himself down and wasted away. In a similar way a man at Charlotte Waters came to one of the authors with a slight spear wound in his back. He was assured that the wound was not serious, and it was dressed in the usual way, but he persisted in saying that the spear had been sung, and that though it could not be seen yet in reality it had broken his back and he was going to die, which accordingly he did. As a result of this a party was organised among the members of his group to avenge his death, and the man who had wounded him with the charmed weapon was killed.
Instances of occurrences such as these could be multiplied, and though of course it is impossible to prove that death would not have followed under any circumstances, that is whether the native had or had not imagined the weapon to have been “sung,” yet, with a knowledge of what wounds and injuries he will survive if he does not suspect the intervention p. 538 of magic, it is not possible to explain death under such circumstances except as associated directly with the firm belief of the injured man that Arungquiltha has entered his body, and that therefore he must die.
It will be noticed in these cases that the medicine man does not intervene. Wounds from charmed spears or other weapons are of a different nature from injuries due to the placing of a pointing stick in the body of the victim. In this latter case there is something tangible which the medicine man can remove, but in the former there is simply an intangible form of Arungquiltha. A case which occurred recently during a fight at Alice Springs will serve to illustrate the matter. An Arunta native was hit by a boomerang which inflicted a wound by no means dangerous as such, but the difficulty was that the wounded man declared that the weapon, which had come down from the Ilpirra tribe which lives away to the north of the Arunta, had been “sung” by an Ilpirra man. An Arunta medicine man was of no use under such circumstances, but fortunately there was an Ilpirra man in camp and he was brought and “sang,” that is, went through the usual pantomime of making passes, sucking and muttering over the wound. As he belonged to the same locality as the man who had originally “sung” the boomerang it was supposed that he could counteract the influence of Illpirra Arungquiltha, which he successfully did.
Another form of magic instrument is made from the hair of a dead man. When a man dies his hair is cut off by his sons, if he has no sons then by his younger brothers or by their sons, or, failing them, by the sons of his elder brothers. While the hair is being cut off, the women and children retire out of sight. Some time after the burial of the man the hair is taken to a secluded spot safe from the intrusion of women, and here the sons and younger brothers of the deceased make it up into a hair-girdle which is given to a son of the dead man, the eldest son having the first right to it, or, failing him, to a younger brother. If neither son nor younger brother be alive then it goes to the eldest son of an elder brother. The Okilia or elder brother cannot himself inherit the girdle, which is called a Kirra-urkna and must always descend to a man p. 539 who is tribally younger than the dead man. This girdle is a valued possession, and is only worn on such occasions as a tribal fight, or when a man is going out as a Kurdaitcha. It is supposed to be endowed with magic power and to add to its possessor all the war-like attributes of the dead man from whose hair it was made. It ensures accuracy of aim and at the same time destroys that of an adversary. In the same way a small piece of a dead man's hair—cut from the body after death—is sometimes placed in the inside of one of the ordinary hair necklets, and worn as a charm by men. To even place by the side of a woman or child one of these magic girdles or necklets would be productive of serious evil to her.
A dead man's Immitnia and Kulchia, that is his opossum fur-string girdle and head-bands, are also held in high esteem. When a man dies these are carefully preserved, and when the Urpmilchima ceremony has been performed at the grave they are made up into what are called Okinchalanina irrulknakinna. The first of these two words is the name given to the ordinary necklet made of opossum fur-string, which is well greased and red-ochred, and worn on ordinary occasions. The second is compounded of the words Irra, he, Ulkna, grave, kinna, from, which will serve to show that the ornaments worn by the dead man are supposed to be endowed in some way with the attributes of the dead man.
When these necklets have been made, it is then decided to whom they shall be given. While the hair of the dead man himself must go to some member of his own moiety of the tribe, that is to his father's side, the Irrulknakinna must be given to some member of the other moiety, that is to his mother's side, and not only this, but they must go to a member of another local group. They are what is called ekirinja, or tabu, to men of the same local group as that to which the dead man belonged.
When the necklets are ready, the men of a neighbouring group are summoned by messengers sent for the purpose and assemble at the men's camp to which the women may not come, and here the son or younger brother of the dead man places the Irrulknakinna round the necks of the chosen recipients by whom they are very highly valued.
In the central and northern groups of the Arunta tribe this special form of necklet is made of perhaps four or five circles of hair-string each about half an inch in diameter, but in the western Arunta there is but one circle, or rather horse-shoe shaped structure forming a coil about an inch and a half in diameter, the two ends of which are tied together by strands of opossum fur-string.
A form of string implement also associated with magic is called Ililika. This consists of about fifty or sixty comparatively thin strands of tightly strung string, made of vegetable fibre. From their use they may be spoken of as knouts, and though seldom seen, most of the men carry one about in their wallet. The sight of one is alone enough to cause the greatest fright to a woman who has offended her blackfellow, while the stroke is supposed to result in death, or at least in maiming for life. In addition to this use, the Ililika is sometimes unwound and cracked like a whip in the direction of any individual whom it is desired to injure when the evil influence is supposed to travel through the air, and so to reach the victim. Though in use amongst the Arunta, Ilpirra, Kaitish and Warramunga tribes, they are only actually manufactured and endowed with their magic power by the members of the latter tribe, and it is the knowledge of this fact which causes them to be viewed with such peculiar dread by the women. Magic of a distant group has a very potent influence on the average native mind.
Away out to the west on the internal border-land of Western Australia is a tribe known as the Wyingurri. Amongst these the name of the sun is Tchintu, and the same name is also applied to an object of magic which consists of a small pear-shaped lump of porcupine grass resin, into one end of which are affixed two incisor rat-teeth, and at the other end is attached a stout piece of hair-string about two feet in length. The string is covered with red down, and the whole is carried out of sight, wrapped up in thin pieces of bark of the paper-bark tree. The specimen which is figured we owe to the kindness of Mr. C. E. Cowle, who obtained it from a Luritcha man living away to the west of the Arunta tribe, and to him it had again been given by an old medicine man of p. 541 the Wyingurri tribe, the members of which are reported to be very expert in matters of magic. In connection with this statement it may be remarked that all distant groups are, as a general rule, supposed to be especially fond of, and powerful in, the practice of magic. This Tchintu is supposed to contain the heat of the sun, and it is believed that by placing it on the tracks of an individual the latter will be seized by a violent fever which will rapidly burn him up. When examining the specimen in the presence of the Luritcha man to whom it belonged, a little of the down fell off, and it was with evident fear pushed aside and then covered over with sand.
We may now deal with various forms of magic which are concerned with the procuring of wives, though it must be remembered that women obtained, or supposed to be obtained, by the aid of these magic means, must belong to the proper class into which, and into which only, a man may marry. That is, for example, a Panunga man can only legitimately use magic to help him to secure a Purula woman.
The first of these methods is used when the woman, whom it is desired to charm, lives in some distant group. When a man is desirous of securing such a woman for himself, and it makes no difference whether she be already assigned or not to some other man—indeed she is perfectly sure to be so—he takes a small wooden Churinga about six or eight inches in length, or, if he has not got one, then he will manufacture one for the occasion, marking it with a design of his own totem. This particular form of Churinga is called a Namatwinna 1 from the words nama, grass, and twinna, to strike, because when using it, it is struck against the ground. Armed with it he goes into the bush accompanied by two or three friends whom he has asked to come, and who may be of any relationship to him. All night long the men keep up a low singing of Quabara songs together with the chanting of amorous phrases of invitation addressed to the woman. At daylight the man stands up alone and swings the Churinga, causing it first to strike the ground as he whirls it round and round and makes
it hum. His friends remain silent, and the sound of the humming is carried to the ears of the far-distant woman, and has the power of compelling affection and of causing her sooner or later to comply with the summons. Not long ago at Alice Springs a man called some of his friends together and performed the ceremony and in a very short time the desired woman, who was on this occasion a widow, came in from Glen Helen about fifty miles to the west of Alice Springs, and the two are now man and wife, the union being regarded as a perfectly lawful one as they belonged to intermarrying classes.
This custom is a well-recognised one. If, by its means, a man obtains the wife of another blackfellow and the latter comes armed, as he most likely will, to resent the interference, then the men who belong to the group of the aggressor will stand by the latter and support his claims, if necessary, by fighting. The woman naturally runs some risk, as, if caught in the act of eloping, she would be severely punished, if not put to death. Under no circumstances would a man be aided in securing a woman of a class into which he might not lawfully marry, nor would he, even if successful in doing so, receive any assistance from his friends in the event of a quarrel arising, as it certainly would, in connection with the abduction.
The custom is by no means confined to the Arunta tribe, but exists at all events among the Ilpirra, Walparri, Kaitish and Warramunga tribes, all of whom use Churinga which are the equivalents of the Namatwinna of the Arunta.
Another method of obtaining a wife by magic is by means of a charmed Chilara or head-band. The latter consists of a number of strands usually made of opossum or euro fur-string placed side by side so as to form a flat band which stretches across the forehead from ear to ear. On special occasions, such as dancing festivals this will be decorated with designs drawn in red ochre and pipeclay. When a native is desirous of charming a woman he will make one of these Chilara out of euro fur-string and whiten it with pipeclay, or else, so it is said, by rubbing it against the white bark of Eucalyptus terminalis. Then in secret he charms it by singing over it, and placing it on p. 543 his head, wears it about the camp so that the woman can see it. By some mysterious means her attention is drawn to it, and she becomes violently attracted to the man, or, as the natives say, her internal organs shake with eagerness. At night, if possible, when all is quiet she creeps into his camp. Sometimes two men who are friends will decide upon making and wearing Chilara so as to charm two women. After wearing them they will depart to their own camps and the women, while pretending to go out hunting, will in reality follow the men and probably not be missed till the evening, when the unlucky husbands will return to find their respective camps empty. How often this method is resorted to it is difficult to say, but it certainly is employed at times. At Alice Springs recently a man named Urkaitcha purinia, when visiting a spot about seventy miles away, to the east, his wife being with him, was attracted by a woman living there who was called Thunginpurturinia, who was the wife of another man. While out hunting during the day he made Chilara, and having charmed it by singing over it wore it when coming into the camp, where he took care to show himself to the woman, who in her own words became Okunjepunna oknirra, the equivalent of our expression “much infatuated.” That night she went to his camp and talked with his wife, and the next day when he left for Alice Springs she followed him, and has ever since been living with him, though the elopement has been the cause of very much ill-feeling between the two groups concerned.
In another case known to us a man named Allapita charmed by means of a Chilara a woman named Irriakura, who was afterwards captured and killed by her previous husband and his friends, who went in search of her and her charmer.
Whilst it is an undoubted fact that these methods of obtaining possession of a woman are actually practised it is not probable that they are of very frequent occurrence, for the simple reason that everything depends on the acquiescence of the woman, and with the sure and certain knowledge that, if caught in the act of deserting the man to whom she has been assigned, she will meet with very severe punishment and in p. 544 all probability be put to death, while, even if not caught, she is almost certain to come in for rough handling during the course of the quarrel which is bound to ensue, the woman is not very easily charmed away from her original possessor. Still, as we have said, she sometimes is, and this method allows of the breaking through of the hard and fast rule which for the most part obtains, and according to which the woman belongs to the man to whom she has been betrothed, probably before her birth.
It may be as well to note that these “runaway marriages” which are seemingly irregular are not so in reality. Certain men and women are Unawa to one another, that is they may lawfully marry, and so long as the contract is entered into between two who are thus entitled tribally to enter into it there is no irregularity. It is a breach of manners but not of custom, and it then comes to be merely a test of strength between the local friends of the two men who are both Unawa, that is tribal husbands, of the girl. It is also worthy of note as contrasted with what takes place in other parts of the continent, that the men to assist a particular man in a quarrel are those of his locality, and not of necessity those of the same totem as himself, indeed the latter consideration does not enter into account and in this as in other matters we see the strong development of what we have called the “local influence” when dealing with the Engwura ceremony. The men who assist him are his brothers, blood and tribal, the sons of his mother's brothers, blood and tribal. That is if he be Panunga man he will have the assistance of the Panunga and Ungalla men of his locality, while if it comes to a general fight he will have the help of the whole of his local group. This division of the tribe into local groups with the consequent development of a more or less strong local feeling is one of the leading features of the Arunta tribe.
Another means of charming women is found in the much valued shell ornament which is traded down through the centre of the continent from the tribes living away on the north coast who manufacture it out of the shell of Melo ethiopica or Meleagrina margaritifera. This is often worn, especially at corrobborees, suspended from the waist-girdle. If a man desires p. 545 to charm a particular woman he takes the Lonka-lonka, 1 as the ornament is called, to some retired spot and charms it by singing over it “Ma quatcha purnto ma quillia purtno,” which words convey an invitation to the lightning to come and dwell in the Lonka-lonka. After the charming has taken place it is hung on a digging-stick at the corrobboree ground until night time, when the man removes it and ties it on to his waist-belt. While he is dancing the woman whom he wishes to attract alone sees the lightning flashing on the Lonka-lonka, and all at once her internal organs shake with emotion. If possible she will creep into his camp that night or take the earliest opportunity to run away with him.
A woman will also be charmed by the use of a native horn of very primitive construction called an Ulpirra. A small fire is lighted and a body of smoke made by placing green bush on it; the Ulpirra is then held over the fire so that the smoke passes through it while the man charms it by singing, whilst he thrusts his head into and swallows some of the smoke. That night at the corrobboree ground while the dance goes on he blows the horn and at once the woman becomes Okunjepunna oknirra, or much infatuated, she alone feeling the influence of the charmed Ulpirra.
Amongst the Churinga there are certain special ones which are used for special magic purposes, the latter having an intimate relationship to the totem to which they belong. One of these is called Churinga Unginia and belongs to a rat totem, the animal being distinguished by the possession of very long whiskers. Unlike any other Arunta Churinga with which we are acquainted, this one has a lump of resin attached to one end and is painted with alternate stripes of red and black. It is in special request by the young men, as it has a remarkable power of increasing the growth of the beard. The ceremony is a very simple one, the chin of the young man is first of all pricked all over with a pointed bone and then carefully stroked with the Churinga. During the rubbing it is supposed that a stimulus resulting in the growth of whiskers, the most striking feature of the animal represented
by the Churinga, passes from the latter to the chin which it rubs.
Another Churinga which belongs to the Amunga or fly totem is used as a charm in the case of eyes, which, as not unfrequently happens in Central Australia, become completely closed up by inflammatory growth consequent upon the bites of the innumerable flies which form one of the most objectionable pests of the Centre. In the case of the whisker stone, as we have seen, it is supposed to put some of its virtues into the man who uses it, whereas in the case of the fly stone the idea seems to be exactly reversed, as the stone is supposed either to withdraw something out of the eyes which has been put in by the flies, or possibly to supply something which will act as an antidote to what the animals, one of which it represents, have put in.
Amongst the Kaitish and other tribes curious small stones called by the former Mauia are met with. They are supposed to be highly charged with magic power, and amongst other uses to which they are put, is that of causing the victim, to bring about the death of whom they are used, to die whilst asleep. One method of securing this result is to place a tiny fragment of the stone on a long stick or the blade of a spear, and then to carefully drop it on to the face of the victim while he sleeps, for if this be done then he will never awake. The Arunta natives, though they have no Mauia stones themselves, are aware and extremely frightened of them, and on one occasion one of them was brought to one of the authors to be examined. The parcel in which it was carefully wrapped was the size of an ordinary pillow, but wrapper after wrapper was taken off until the dreaded contents were exposed to view, and proved to be a minute stone, which subsequent analysis showed was a fragment of magnesium limestone.
Amongst the Kaitish and Warramunga tribes a stone object, identical in form with the Churinga which they use, is devoted to magic purposes. It is somewhat pear-shaped and flat, and at the narrow end, as is characteristic of the Churinga of these tribes, is a small lump of resin to which a strand of human hair-string is attached. The stone is held in the palm of the right hand, the thumb of that hand is linked with the p. 547 little finger of the left, and the two hands, thus linked together, are held in front of the face and jerked three times towards the person whom it is intended to kill, an incantation being uttered at the same time. 1
Amongst the Arunta tribe, women, while not dealing with magic as a general rule, or at any rate not to anything like the extent that the men do, are still supposed to be able to exercise peculiar powers in regard to the sexual organs. 2 To bring on a painful affection in those of men, a woman will procure the spear-like seed of a long grass (Inturkirra), and having charmed it by singing some magic chant over it, she awaits an opportunity to point and throw it towards the man whom she desires to injure. Shortly after this has been done the man experiences pain, as if he had been stung by ants, his parts become swollen, and he at once attributes his sufferings to the magic influence of some woman who wishes to injure him. A woman may also charm a handful of dust which she collects while out digging up “yams” or gathering seeds, and having “sung” it brings it into camp with her. She takes the opportunity of sprinkling it over a spot where the man whom she wishes to injure is likely to micturate. If he should do so at this spot he would experience a scalding sensation in the urethra and afterwards suffer a great amount of pain. Women may also produce disease in men by singing over and thus charming a finger, which is then inserted in the vulva; the man who subsequently has connection with her will become diseased and may lose his organs altogether, and so when a woman wishes to injure a man she will sometimes, after thus “poisoning” herself, seek an opportunity of soliciting him, though he be not her proper Unawa. Syphilitic disease amongst the Arunta is, as a matter of fact, very frequently attributed to this form of magic, for it must be remembered that the native can only understand disease of any form as
due to evil magic, and he has to provide what appears to him to be a suitable form of magic to account for each form of disease.
As love-charms women will sometimes make and “sing” special okinchalanina or fur-string necklets, which they place round the man's neck, or they may simply charm a food such as a witchetty grub or lizard and give this to the man to eat.
Just as we find magic used in connection with the securing of a wife who is already the property of another man, so we find also a special form of magic employed in the punishment of the individual who is guilty of the theft. The western and south-western Arunta are famed for their skill in magic, and especially in various forms of Arungquiltha. 1 To punish a man who has stolen a wife and who belongs to a distant group, or to one which is too powerful to make it advisable to allow matters to come to an open fight, two men, perhaps the former husband and another man to whom the stolen woman is Unawa—but they need not of necessity be either of them Unawa—prepare a special implement of magic. A thin flake of flint or quartzite, in fact a miniature knife blade, is made, to the blunt end of which a lump of resin is attached, and to this a miniature spear is fixed. Then a very small spear-thrower is made, and into this a bole is bored so that the end of the spear fits tightly into it. To this implement the name of Arungquiltha is applied. It is painted all over with red ochre and when this is dry, cross bars of white, yellow and black are added along the whole length.
It is now sung over and left in the sun for some days at a secluded spot, the men going to it every day and singing to it a request to go and kill the man who stole the woman, the words of the request being “Go straight; go straight and kill him.” Finally the two men come to the spot, and after singing
for some time one man kneels down, huddling himself together with his forehead touching the ground in front of his knees, while the other man takes up the magic implement, and, standing between the feet of the first man, throws the thing with all his force in the direction in which his enemy lives. When he has done this he kneels, huddled up in the same position as the other man, and with his head between the latter's feet. In this position they remain in perfect silence until they hear the Arungquiltha, which is regarded in this instance as an evil spirit resident in the magic implement, saying, “Where is he?” Upon hearing the voice—and sometimes they have to remain in this most uncomfortable position for several hours—they get up and return to camp, where they abstain from talking and are always listening. By and by if the Arungquiltha be successful—and it is generally supposed to be so—they hear a noise like a crash of thunder, and then they know that, in the form of a great spear, it has gone straight to the man, mutilating and thus killing him. This form of Arungquiltha is frequently seen at night, and sometimes even during the daytime, streaking across the sky like a ball of fire. Quite recently a man out west was found mutilated and dead, and certain men living at Henbury on the Finke River are accused of having projected the Arungquiltha.
Another form of Arungquiltha which produces comets is brought about in the following way, and is only used for punishing women. If a woman runs away from her husband and he is unable to recover her, he and his friends, that is men of his local group, assemble at a secluded spot where a man skilled in magic draws upon the surface of a small patch of ground, which has been cleared and smoothed down for the purpose, a rough diagram, of which the accompanying sketch (Fig. 107) is a copy. This drawing is simply marked out on p. 550 the ground with the finger and is intended to represent the figure of the woman lying down on her back. It is called Aura, a term which has much the same significance as the word emblem. 1 While the drawing is being made, and throughout the whole proceedings, low chants are sung, the burden of which is an exhortation to the Arungquiltha to go out and enter her body and dry up all of her fat. When the drawing is done a piece of green bark is placed at the spot marked with an asterisk. This is supposed to represent the spirit part of the woman, and then all the men who are present stick into it a number of miniature spears, which have been made for the purpose and have been “sung.” The spears with the bark into which they are fixed are then flung as far as they can be thrown in the direction in which the woman is supposed to be. The party now returns to camp, and sooner or later, very often after the lapse of a considerable time, the woman's fat dries up, she dies, and her ulthana, or spirit, appears in the sky in the form of a shooting-star.
We have already, in the account of Undiara, referred to the old man Ungutnika who plucked boils from his body, each of which turned into one of the group of stones which are still to beseen at Undiara and are called Aperta tukira, that is stone sores. Men who desire to harm others in one particular way make a number of small wooden imitation spears and go to these stones, at which they throw the spears, taking care that the points strike the stones. Then the spears are picked up and thrown one by one from a spear-thrower in the direction of the man, whom it is desired to injure. The spears are supposed to carry away with them Arungquiltha from the stones, and this produces an eruption of painful boils in the individual or individuals towards whom they are thrown. Sometimes a whole group of people can be afflicted in this way by a skilful magic man.
Yet another form of Arungquiltha is associated in tradition with the story of an emaciated emu. In the Alcheringa a very thin and emaciated emu came from the far north-east, from a mythical place called Atnangara. It carried on its head a Nurtunja, and a Churinga under its armpit. Its body was covered with feathers and inside it carried some eggs. The creature was in fact half emu and half man, and belonged to the Panunga class. Unlike other Alcheringa individuals it did not perform sacred ceremonies as it travelled along. The first known camping place was at Ilpma in the Strangway Range, and its only food consisted of Udnirringa berries which form a favourite food of the emu. From Ilpma it travelled south to Udnurringunia, where two eggs were deposited which turned into stone, and are now represented at the spot by two large round black stones. Then it went on to Uknurulinga in the Strangway Range, and thence travelled on till it came to Iralta, where it passed a lot of emu men and women, but being ashamed of its poor condition it did not go near to them. They had Nurtunjas which they carried on their heads. Then it passed Narpipa without seeing the Unjiamba people who dwelt and had sprung up there. Walking on across the Burt Plain, which lies to the north of the Macdonnell Ranges, it came to what is now called Bond Springs, where a number of emu men and women were met who had originated there and with whom it fraternised for a time. These people, however, did not like it because it was so thin and miserable-looking, so they at length drove it away, and going on it camped halfway between Bond Springs and Undoolia, a slender column of stone rising to mark the spot where it camped, and this may be seen to the present day. Travelling on amongst the Ranges it came to a spot a little to the east of the Jessie Gap, where it deposited its solitary Churinga, from which a Bulthara man named Untwarntwa now living is descended. At this spot the poor creature became still more emaciated and finally changed into a large stone, which became charged with Arungquiltha, or evil influence, for in some curious way thinness seems to be especially associated with the latter.
Any one wishing to injure another person may perform a p. 552 simple ceremony here, which consists merely in rubbing the stone with the hands while muttering an exhortation to the evil influence to come forth and afflict the person whom he desires to harm. After this has been done the person will gradually grow thinner and thinner until he withers away altogether.
Another stone close to a large clay pan not far from Alice Springs marks the spot where a lizard man died in the Alcheringa. He also was thin and emaciated, and so the stone is charged with Arungquiltha, which by rubbing and muttering, as just described in the case of the emu stone, may be projected into the body of an enemy.
Amongst other forms of magic the following may also be noticed. Just as the stones marking the spot where the thin animals or men died are associated with magic, so we find the same to hold good in the case of other trees and stones which are associated with special individuals of the Alcheringa. Near to Charlotte Waters, for example, is a tree which sprung up to mark the spot where a blind man died. This tree is called the Apera okilchya, that is the blind tree, and the spot where it stands the Mira okilchya, or blind camp. Should this be cut down it is supposed that the men of the locality in which it grows will become blind: or if any one wishes to produce blindness in an enemy, all that he has to do is to go alone to the tree, and while rubbing it mutter his desire and an exhortation to the Arungquiltha to go forth and afflict his enemy. Along by the side of the Hugh River in the Macdonnell Ranges close to Mount Conway is a stone which marks where a blind man of the wild duck totem died; and here again the same ceremony may be performed. Close also to Temple Bar, a gap in the ranges, is another similar stone.
We may refer here also to the Erathipa stones which are supposed to be full of spirit children, and by means of rubbing which a man can cause them to go out and enter women. These have been fully described elsewhere.
To cause a person to become thin and weak, spittle is put on the tips of the fingers, which are then bunched together and jerked in the direction of the former. This is called Puliliwuma or spittle-throwing. Amongst the Ilpirra p. 553 tribe especially, a very simple method consists in merely charming a finger by singing over it, and then pointing it at an enemy who is supposed to waste away. In the Ilpirra also a form of magic called Tchinperli is practised. A short stick is sharpened at both ends and then a number of little bits of flint are fixed on to it all round with resin. The object thus made is charmed by being “sung,” and is then pointed at the enemy, who either wastes away or becomes blind. The same tribe also brings about death by placing a tiny flake of flint which has been charmed under the finger nail. In this position it is carried about until the opportunity occurs of dropping it quietly on to the person whom it is desired to kill.
To produce blindness the Arunta native will sometimes merely point one of the ordinary Injilla or pointing sticks, or he will charm a Chilara or forehead band, and then present it to his enemy, who after a time loses his sight.
Amongst the Kaitish, Illiaura and Warramunga tribes who bury their dead in trees, before placing them finally in the ground, the small bones of the arm are used for making the magic Injilla or pointing bones, and are carried about with them on fighting expeditions.
In connection with the question of magic it may be noticed in conclusion that a special form, which is widely met with in other Australian tribes, is not practised amongst these. We refer to the attempt to injure an enemy by means of securing and then practising some form of charm upon some part of his person, such as hair or nail clippings. As we have already seen, images or representations of individuals are made with the idea that any hurt done to them is sympathetically felt by their human representative, and the absence of the particular form of magic referred to is to be associated with the fact that for some reason in these tribes, unlike what usually takes place, human hair is regarded as a most valuable form of gift, and, as we have described elsewhere, the disposal of it is regulated by fixed rules. Under these circumstances the idea of the Arunta native on this subject is entirely different from the one met with amongst many other savage tribes.
528:1 Nicotianum suaveolens. The leaves of this plant are used, after preparation, for chewing by the natives.
530:1 In connection with medicine men and women alike, restrictions such as those applying to Mura are laid on one side during the actual exercise of their profession.
532:1 For an excellent account of the functions of a medicine man, cf. Roth, op. cit., pp. 153 et seq.
541:1 This is evidently precisely the same thing as the kind of “whirler” described already by Mr. Roth, and used as a “love-charm” to attract and secure women amongst the Yaroinga tribe. Roth, p. 182.
545:1 The Lonka-lonka is also used as a charm in connection with sickness of any kind. Laid on the chest of a man it is supposed to have great curative properties.
547:1 For a previous reference to these two forms of magic, see Report of the Horn Expedition to Central Australia, vol. iv., p. 81, where they are quoted by Dr. Stirling from information supplied by one of the authors.
547:2 As a general rule women are not supposed to be able to exercise much magic, except in regard to the sexual organs, but we have known of a woman being speared to death by the brother of her husband, who accused her of having killed the latter by means of a pointing stick.
548:1 This is a term of somewhat vague import, but is always associated at bottom with the possession of supernatural evil power. A thin opossum or emu is either Arungquiltha or endowed with Arungquiltha; in fact, the idea can be best expressed by saying that “it is possessed by an evil spirit.” A pointing stick used by a medicine man is Arungquiltha, and so is the Churinga which has been sung over and is carried by the Illapurinja woman. The name Arungquiltha is applied indiscriminately either to the evil influence or to the object in which it is, for the time being, or permanently, resident.
550:1 The same term, though it is sometimes pronounced as if spelt oara, is applied to (1) the drawing now referred to, (2) the hole made in the ground to represent the woman belonging to the man whom an avenging party is about to kill. In addition to these there is the ceremony of Okoara during circumcision, when dirt is scraped up and emptied into the hands of the man who is to perform the operation, the idea being that the boy is handed over to him with as little misgiving as the dirt is.