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.

[4] For the facts see Frazer, Totemism, and cf. p. 31 infra.

[5] MS. note from Dr Seligmann’s unpublished Report of Cook-Daniels Expedition; Camb.  Univ.  Torres Sts Exped., V, 172; Man, 1904, no. 18.

[6] J.A.I. XVIII, 282.

[7] Man, 1903, no. 97.

[8] New, Travels, p. 274.

[9] Ausland, 1856, p. 45, 1882, p. 834; Allg.  Miss.  Zts. V, 354; Zts.  Vgl.  Rechtswiss. XIV, 295; Mitt.  Orient.  Seminar, III, 73, V, 109.  The recent work of Irle is inaccurate and confused.



Descent of kinship, origin and primitive form.  Matriliny in Australia. 
     Relation to potestas, position of widow, etc.  Change of rule of
     descent; relation to potestas, inheritance and local organisation.

In discussions of the origin and evolution of kinship organisations, we are necessarily concerned not only with their forms but also with the rules of descent which regulate membership of them.  Until recently the main questions at issue were twofold:  (1) the priority or otherwise of female descent; (2) the causes of the transition from one form of descent to another.  Of late the question has been raised whether in the beginning hereditary kinship groups existed at all, or whether membership was not rather determined by considerations of an entirely different order.  Dr Frazer, who has enunciated this view, maintains that totemism rests on a primitive theory of conception, due to savage ignorance of the facts of procreation.[10] But his theory is based exclusively on the foundation of the beliefs of the Central Australians and seems to neglect more than one important point which goes to show that the Arunta have evolved their totemic system from the more ordinary hereditary form.  Whether this be so or not, it is difficult to see how any idea of kinship could arise from such a condition of nescience.  If we take the analogous case of the nagual or “individual totem” there seems to be no trace of any belief in the kinship of those who have the same animal as their nagual, but are otherwise bound by no tie of relationship.  Yet if Dr Frazer’s theory were correct, this is precisely what we ought to find.

This is, however, no reason for rejecting the general proposition that kinship, at its origin, was not hereditary; or, more exactly, that the beginnings of the kinship groups found at the present day may be traced back to a point at which the hereditary principle virtually disappears, although the bond of union and perhaps the totem name already existed.  If, as suggested by Mr Lang, man was originally distributed in small communities, known by names which ultimately came to be those of the totem kins, we may suppose that daily association would not fail to bring about that sense of solidarity in its members which it is found to

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