Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia.

[104] See Man, 1905, no. 28, where I show that in the Wellington Valley was current a myth of the conflict between Baiame and Mudgegong (=Eaglehawk).

[105] Chap.  IV, phratries, nos. 27-29.

[106] See Map III, phratry no. 28.

CHAPTER VI.

ORIGIN OF PHRATRIES.

Mr Lang’s theory and its basis.  Borrowing of phratry names.  Split groups. 
     The Victorian area.  Totems and phratry names.  Reformation theory of
     phratriac origin.

If a pre-phratry organisation developed into the system as we find it, it is a little difficult to see how selection can have operated, unless, indeed, as Mr Lang suggests, the phratries are transformed connubial groups, in which case they may have received new names.  It is perhaps simpler to suppose that the cases of selection of phratry names cited above are those in which the organisation has been borrowed with full knowledge of its meaning.  If this view is correct, no criticism of theories of the origin of phratries is possible from the point of view of the names actually existing, for we cannot say which, if any, are those which were evolved in the organisation which served as a model to the remainder.

Broadly speaking the theories of origin at present in the field may be reduced to two:  in the first place, the conscious reformation theory, which supposes that man discovered the evils of in-and-in breeding, a point on which some discussion will be found in a later portion of this work.  In the second place, there is the unconscious evolution theory put forward by Mr Lang, whose criticism of the opposing view makes it unnecessary to deal with the objections here[107].

Mr Lang’s original theory took for its basis the hypothesis, put forward by the late Mr J.J.  Atkinson, in Primal Law, of the origin of exogamy.  His starting-point was mankind in the brute stage.  At the point in the evolution of the human race at which Mr Atkinson takes up his tale, man, or rather Eoanthropos, was, according to his conjecture, organised, if that term can be applied to the grouping of the lower animals, in bodies consisting of one adult male, an attendant horde of adult females, including, probably, at any rate after a certain lapse of time, his own progeny, together with the immature offspring of both sexes.  As the young males came to maturity, they would be expelled from the herd, as is actually the case with cattle and other mammals, by their sire, now become their foe.  They probably wandered about, as do the young males of some existing species, in droves of a dozen or more, and at certain seasons of the year, one or more of them would, as they felt their powers mature, engage the lord of their own or of another herd in single combat, until with the lapse of time the latter either succumbed or was driven from the herd to end his days in solitary ferocity, his hand against everyone, just as we see the rogue elephant wage war indiscriminately on all who approach him.

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