Kakadu tribe.--Tjilaiyu ceremony.--Evil magic by means of burning korno or excrement.--Capturing the yalmuru of the victim.--Evil magic by means of securing a fragment of the victim's food.--Eating pounded ant-hill as cure for disease.--Evil magic by means of mud scraped from the victim's foot.--Magic ceremony to strengthen a boy.
IN the Kakadu tribe there is a very curious form of magic, the ceremony connected with which is called Tjilaiyu. It is concerned with injuring a person by means of dealing in a very special way with some of his excrement or korno. Because of this, everyone is most careful to cover over and hide from view all excrementa, one result of which is that Kakadu camps are more cleanly than those of many other tribes. It is not, however, a difficult matter for a man who wishes to injure an enemy to secure some korno. A medicine man, for example, will find out where it is buried and then, when no one is watching, he will go to the place and rake a little into a piece of bark with a stick, because it must not be touched. There are always at least three men who take part in the ceremony. The man who has secured the korno hands it, in the bark, to one of the others, who ties it round with string. It is then taken away from the camp out
into the bush to a quiet spot where no one is likely to come. The performers have previously provided them. selves with a supply of wax, both beeswax and a kind of resin, called kapei, derived from the root of the iron-wood tree. They make five little spherical balls, one of kapei and four of beeswax. The first named is about three inches in diameter, the others one inch. These are called jungana. They are all hollow, or, rather, each has a hole pressed into it by the thumb. A pit is dug in the ground about two feet in diameter. It is called narul, and is just the same as the one made for an ordinary earth oven or peindi. A fire is lighted in it and this must be made on the spot by rubbing one stick on another. The red-hot tinder must also be wafted about on paper bark until it bursts into a blaze; it must not be blown by the mouth. The fire itself, when once it has been lighted, must be fanned by a lubra holding a norkun, or goose wing, in her left hand. The stones are then placed on the fire. Before this, however, the korno has been finely ground up and put in the wax spheres, which are then closed over and placed to one side of the hole. A shallow trench called ye-eini is made, about twelve feet long, with the soil heaped up on each side. It is broadest at the end where the pit has been dug and tapers away to the other end. The performers squat down at one side of the fire, the men in a line, one behind the other, the woman slightly to one side (Fig. 64). The general arrangement can be seen in Plate XI.
When the fire is hot enough the real performance begins. The men bend forwards, each of them with his hands between his legs, the woman does the same because the spirit must not, on any account, see their private parts. If it were to do so they would swell enormously. The stones are removed from the fire and, first of all,
the feathers are knocked into the latter, one by one, the natives saying "keep quiet, keep quiet," the idea being that the birds they represent will thereby be persuaded not to give notice to the victim that any danger such as a snake or crocodile threatens him. Then the men sway about, looking as fierce as they possibly can, while they place the wax spheres in the piendi, the kapei below the smaller ones. Away in the distance they can hear the spirit cursing and swearing, saying mulyarinyu koiyu and using other opprobrious expressions. The men say nerk, nerk, nerk, and beckon it onwards. It is under a spell and comes on cursing more and more loudly. When it is near, the natives crouch down silently, the front man ready for action. On it comes like a whirlwind, rushes along the trench, scraping against the sharp Pandanus leaves. Suddenly, when it reaches the brink of the peindi, the front man knocks the stick representing it into the fire on the top of the korno. All of them shout, Ah, Ah, Ah; Ach, Ach, Brng, Brng! at the top of their voices. Without a moment's pause, stones and earth are piled on the Yalmuru, one special large stone being placed on top, the men pressing down hard with all their might to keep it in. The spirit underneath can be heard sizzling and swearing (Fig. 65). It tries to lift the stone but cannot. At length it is heard to say Grr, Grr, u-u. Then it is quiet and all is over. The Pandanus leaves are rubbed against the top stone, while the names of different snakes, Ngabadaua, Yidaburabara and Numberanerji, are hissed out. One or other of them are supposed to be sure to bite the victim before long. Finally a log of wood that is supposed to represent a
[1. This is one of various opprobrious epithets and expressions used by men when angry and excited. This particular one consists in cursing their mother; others are still more opprobrious and objectionable. Such expressions are met with in all the tribes.]
crocodile, which it is hoped will seize him some day when he is bathing, is placed on top and then, when the performers have smeared their bodies over with burnt cork-wood and grass, the ceremony is at an end, and they go back to camp. Anyone coming across the remains of the trench, and seeing the stones and log piled up above the small mound, knows that evil magic has been performed. It is supposed that, by the capture of the Yalmuru, the man is left without his protector. If, for example, he be out in the bush, there will be no spirit to warn him of approaching danger, or guide him to where he can secure his food.
Another form of practising evil magic amongst the Kakadu consists in a man who desires to injure an enemy securing some fragment of food that the latter has been eating. First of all he ties it up in paper bark and takes it away, unknown to anyone else, to his own camp where he pounds it up and sings over it, thereby projecting evil magic into it. Then he ties it up again and takes it to an ant hill, at the base of which he makes a small hole, pushes the food inside, and closes the hole so that it cannot be seen. This form of magic is supposed to be very effective and to act rapidly. Within three days the man becomes very hot, continually cries out for water and soon dies.
It is curious to note that, conversely, pounded ant hill, called Mupulangu, is eaten as a cure for certain diseases such as fevers. While, one day, we were in the Kakadu camp, we came across a woman named Minborku, who was in the act of eating some. She was evidently suffering from a mild attack of malarial fever and had perfect faith in the efficacy of the remedy.
Still another form of evil magic is associated with the mud that attaches itself to the foot of a native
walking through a swamp. When he comes on to dry ground he naturally scrapes the mud off, generally using something such as a piece of paper bark to do so. if another man, who wishes to injure him, comes across his tracks, he gathers up some of the mud or paper bark to which it is attached. He wraps it in some more paper bark and ties it round with string. In his camp, when it is quite dry, he pounds it up until he can roll it into a ball and then, as in the previous case, places it in a hole that be makes n the base of an ant hill. By and by the victim's foot breaks out into sores which gradually spread all over it. The toes drop off, and the hands and feet decay. No medicine man can do anything to counteract this form of magic. It is a disease which is every now and then met with amongst the Kakadu natives and is, superficially at least, suggestive of leprosy. There was, at the time of my visit, one woman in the camp who was suffering from it, and Mr. Cahill told me that he had seen many cases.
In the Kakadu tribe there is also a magical ceremony, the object of which is to strengthen a boy who happens to be weakly and undergrown. His father, father's brother, or his elder brother, secures a little of the korno or excrement of some strong man. The performers, who always include the boy and his father and a young mature woman who has not as yet borne a child, go to some quiet spot in the scrub where they are well out of sight of the camp. Here a fire is lighted in a hole dug in the ground. This fire must be made on the spot by means of Ingornu or drilling fire-sticks. The korno Is finely pounded up and placed in a little sphere of kapei, that is, resin derived from the root of the Iron-wood tree. Enclosed in the wax the korno is then placed on the fire. The fire while being made must be fanned
by a norkun or goosewing held by the woman in he, left hand. The boy sits down close behind his father, whom he clasps round the waist, looking over his father's shoulder at the fire. The woman sits to one side. The fire is covered over while the korno is burnt and the father hits the boy with a little bundle of paper bark called Yailla, saying as he does so, Phu, Phu, jereini kumerawardua; then he rubs his son, saying as he does so, Ngoornberi kumerawardua, after which he strikes him on the shoulder, saying, Phu, phu, umberabadua jereini, grow tall man; finally, he hits him very hard, saying, pierda nugorto, strong arm; balera yinyimma jereini pierda, by and by you strong man. When all is over the burnt korno is taken out, and together with the norkun is placed, as the natives say, Iwaji jiboulu, that is, inside a hollow tree and left there. The man whose korno has been used is supposed to part with his strength to the boy and to die.