Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 199 pages of information about Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia.

On the whole therefore I conclude that the pirrauru relation affords absolutely no evidence of a prior stage of group marriage.  So far from the quantity of evidence for group marriage having been increased by Dr Howitt’s recent book, it has undergone a diminution.  Gason had stated[180] that tribal brothers had the right of access in the absence of the husband without first being made pirrauru.  This, if correct, would have been much nearer group marriage than the actual facts; the statement however appears to be incorrect, if we may judge by the fact that Dr Howitt has silently dropped it.

Of the piraungaru relation but little can be said, mainly for the reason that our information is so scanty.  We do not learn, for example, if it is temporary or permanent, if the consent of the woman is needed, if she ever asks her husband for a certain piraungaru, or if she applies rather to her elder brothers.  We do not know what becomes of the piraungaru when the primary spouse dies, whether the brother can claim a right to his brother’s wife as piraungaru on giving presents, whether married and unmarried alike enter into the relationship, whether a woman can become piraungaru before she has a special husband, whether relations of free love are barred between a man and his prospective wife and permitted with other nupa women, and a host of other questions.  We do not even learn when access is permitted to a piraungaru spouse.  We have, it is clear, far too few data to be able to estimate the value of the dictum of Messrs Spencer and Gillen that “individual marriage does not exist either in name or in practice in the Urabunna tribe.”  If their views are based only on the facts they have given us, they have clearly overlooked a number of essential points; if, on the other hand, they took other facts into consideration, we may reasonably ask to be put in possession of the whole case.


[152] Aust.  Ass. IV, 689.

[153] Ib. p. 717.

[154] Ausland, 1891, p. 843.

[155] Zts.  Vgl.  Rechtsw. XII, 268.

[156] The statement, Journ.  Anthr.  Inst. XX, 55, that a man and woman become noa by betrothal is clearly erroneous.

[157] Nat.  Tribes, p. 181.  This was not brought out by Dr Howitt’s paper of 1890 in Journ.  Anthr.  Inst. XX, and is denied in Folklore XVII, 174 sq. by Dr Howitt himself; see my criticism, ib. 294 sq.

[158] p. 179.

[159] p. 187.  Subject to the girl having passed the wilpadrina ceremony. Journ.  Anthr.  Inst. XX, 56.

[160] But see p. 129, n. 2.

[161] This is in contradiction with the statement (Journ.  Anthr.  Inst. XX, 56) that the various couples are not consulted.  We also learn (loc. cit. p. 62) that the exercise of marital rights by own tribal brothers is independent of their pirrauru relation.  The order of precedence is (1) tippa-malku, (2) pirrauru, (3) brothers.

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