An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 866 pages of information about An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 1.

Between the ages of eight and sixteen, the males and females undergo the operation which they term Gnah-noong, viz that of having the septum nasi bored, to receive a bone or reed, which among them is deemed a great ornament, though I have seen many whose articulation was thereby rendered very imperfect.  Between the same years also the males receive the qualifications which are given to them by losing one of the front teeth.  This ceremony occurred twice during my residence in New South Wales; and in the second operation I was fortunate enough to attend them during the whole of the time, attended by a person well qualified to make drawings of every particular circumstance that occurred.  A remarkable coincidence of time was noticed as to the season in which it took place.  It was first performed in the beginning of the month of February 1791; and exactly at the same period in the year 1795 the second operation occurred.  As they have not any idea of numbers beyond three, and of course have no regular computation of time, this can only be ascribed to chance, particularly as the season could not have much share in their choice, February being one of the hot months.

On the 25th of January 1795 we found that the natives were assembling in numbers for the purpose of performing this ceremony.  Several youths well known among us, never having submitted to the operation, were now to be made men.  Pe-mul-wy, a wood native, and many strangers, came in; but the principals in the operation not being arrived from Cam-mer-ray, the intermediate nights were to be passed in dancing.  Among them we observed one man painted white to the middle, his beard and eye-brows excepted, and all together a frightful object.  Others were distinguished by large white circles round the eyes, which rendered them as terrific as can well be imagined.  It was not until the 2nd of February that the party was complete.  In the evening of that day the people from Cam-mer-ray arrived, among whom were those who were to perform the operation, all of whom appeared to have been impatiently expected by the other natives.  They were painted after the manner of the country, were mostly provided with shields, and all armed with clubs, spears, and throwing sticks.  The place selected for this extraordinary exhibition was at the head of Farm Cove, where a space had been for some days prepared by clearing it of grass, stumps, etc.; it was of an oval figure, the dimensions of it 27 feet by 18, and was named Yoo-lahng.

When we arrived at the spot, we found the party from the north shore armed, and standing at one end of it; at the other we saw a party consisting of the boys who were to be given up for the purpose of losing each a tooth, and their several friends who accompanied them.

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