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.


[141] The pirrauru union is preceded by a ceremony, but this is no proof that primitive group marriage, if it existed, was contracted in the same way.

[142] Dissimilar polygamy is, in respect of the inferior spouses, hardly to be distinguished from promiscuity, save that the number of them is limited.  But in Australia the lending of pirraurus sweeps away even this distinction.

[143] He says family, or Cyclopean family.  Harem in fact is the idea.

[144] i.e. not life-long.



Passage from Promiscuity.  Reformatory Movements.  Incest.  Relative
     harmfulness of such unions.  Natural aversion.  Australian facts.

The arguments for group marriage in Australia are of two kinds—­(1) from the terms of relationship, that is to say of a mixed philological and sociological character, and (2) from the customs of the Australian tribes.

The argument from the terms of relationship is so intimately connected with the theories of Lewis Morgan that it may be well to give a brief critical survey of Morgan’s hypotheses.  I therefore begin the treatment of this part of the subject by a statement of Morgan’s views on the general question of the origin and development of human marriage.

As a result of his enquiries into terms of relationships, mainly in North America and Asia, Morgan drew up a scheme of fifteen stages, through which he believed the sexual relations of human beings had passed in the interval between utter savagery and the civilised family.  We are only concerned with the earlier portion of his scheme.  It is not even necessary to discuss that in all its details.  Morgan’s first eight (properly five) stages are: 

I. Promiscuous Intercourse.

II.  Intermarriage or Cohabitation of Brothers and Sisters.

III.  The Communal Family (First stage of the Family).

IV.  The Hawaian Custom of Punalua[145], giving the Malayan Form of the
Classificatory System[146].

V. The Tribal Organisation, i.e. totemic exogamy plus promiscuity, giving the Turanian and Ganowanian System[147].

VI.  Monogamy.

The objections to this theory or group of theories are numerous, and it will not be necessary to consider them all here.  Were it not that no one has since Morgan’s day attempted to trace in detail the course of evolution from promiscuity to monogamy, it would be almost superfluous to discuss the theories of a work on primitive sociology dating back nearly thirty years.

With some points Morgan has failed to deal in a way that commends itself to us in the light of knowledge accumulated since his day; with others he has not attempted to deal, apparently from a want of perception of their importance.

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Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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