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.
phratry is demonstrably older than the class.  But the result of the division of a tribe into two phratries is to prevent brother and sister marriage, while, so far as phratry rules are concerned, father and daughter are still free to marry in those tribes where the descent is matrilineal.  The result (though not necessarily the original object) of the class-system, on the other hand, is to prevent the marriage of fathers and daughters and generally of the older generation with the younger, so far as the classes actually represent generations.  In actual practice the class into which a man may marry includes females of all ages, so that he is only debarred from marrying young females if they are his own daughters.  But if we may assume that the original object of the classes was to prevent the intermarriage of different generations, it is at once obvious that in Australia the evolution postulated by Mr Morgan, if it took place at all, took place in reverse order, the brother and sister marriage being the first to be brought under the ban.

The objections to which attention has been called seem to make it difficult if not impossible to accept Morgan’s explanations either of the processes or of the causes which led to the passage from promiscuity to communal marriage.


[145] This is not really material.

[146] Properly speaking these are not stages in the same sense as the other forms.

[147] See note 2 on previous page. [Transcriber’s Note:  Refers to [146]]

[148] We find that in practice change of age grade, i.e. of relationship term, does exist; a clearer proof could not be given that the term of relationship has nothing to do with descent.

[149] Wiener Med.  Wochenschrift, 1904; cf. Fort.  Rev. LXXXIII, 460, n. 18.  There is, as Mr Lang informs me, a curious Panama case in records of the Darien expedition, 1699.

[150] Sometimes but usually not, for Morgan is utterly inconsistent.



Mother and Child.  Kurnai terms.  Dieri evidence. Noa. Group Mothers. 
     Classification and descriptive terms.  Poverty of language.  Terms
     express status.  The savage view natural.

We may now turn to consider the terms of relationship from the point of view of marriage, more especially in connection with Australia.  We have already seen that there are great difficulties in the way of Morgan’s hypothesis that the names accurately represent the relations which formerly existed in the tribes which used them.  I propose to discuss the matter here from a somewhat different standpoint.

It seems highly probable that if any individual term came into use, whether monogamy, patriarchal polygyny, “group marriage,” or promiscuity prevailed, it would be that which expresses the relationship of a mother to her child.  The only other possibility would be that in the first two conditions mentioned the relation of husband to wife might take precedence.

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