Legends of the Kulin, Kurnai, Wotjoballuk and Yuin

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Transcription - Page 4

Another legend shows the composite nature
of the actors who are human + yet animal.

Karwin the blue crane who had been
fishing with the young men when on his way home
and gave them some of his fish. They having eaten then
fell asleep by the fire. Then by his magic he caused
a great log to rise up and fall on them so that they died.

Then Bunjil for this conduct [in this + other matters- crossed out] matter + for not giving his wife food
fought with him and speared him through the thigh, so
that his legs became very thin and always hang down
when he [??] to fly (7)

A Kurnai legend also shows it is a composite nature of its
actors, Borun the pelican and the old time Kurnai.
There was a great flood which covered the land and drowned all
the people excepting a man and two women, who took refuge in a mud island.
Bunjil Borun came by in his canoe, and took the man across to the
main land, then one of the women, leaving the best looking one to the
last. She being forgotten swam across, having first rolled up a log of drift wood
in her rug and laid it by the fire. When Bunjil Borun returned he called her
but as she did not reply he landed and seeing as she appeared fast asleep
gave her a kick but hurt his foot upon the log. Then being enraged he began
to paint himself white preparatory for fighting the man whose wife had played him
this trick. When he was half painted another Pelican came by
when seeing a queer looking object half white + half black struck him with his beak
& killed him. This is why all pelicans are black + white (1)
Such legends as [which I have quoted - crossed out] these might be multiplied
indefinitely from tribes all over Australia.
What I have quoted will amply suffice to shew
an example of the beliefs of tribes in this Eastern and
especially the South East of Australia. ________________

These [??] show, but less fully than the
legends of which they are quoted, that in these legends the actors are
either entirely human or else partly human & partly animal,
but so intrinsically that one cannot properly separate one element from
the other. This characteristic seems to belong essentially
to the Easter type legends, although there are entirely analagous tales among
those of the western type, for instance that of Pirinti + Karin (2)


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Document Details

Letter From
Letter To
Author Howitt, Alfred William
Country Australia
Holding Institution Museums Victoria
Collection Name Alfred W. Howitt Collection
Registration Number XM 521
Medium Notes
Summary Content of the draft notes compares beliefs and legends related to Lake Eyre, Arrernte, and Victorian groups including Wotjobaluk, Kulin and Kurnai, and the Yuin in NSW. Identification of similarities. References to Murra-muras, Alcheringa, and Bunjil Borun. The notes are for part of Chapter VIII of Howitt's 'Native Tribes of South-East Australia' published in 1904 and were therefore drafted sometime before 1904.
Physical Description Draft. Handwritten in ink, undated. Some annotations in margins and corrections throughout. Vertical line through each page. Five foolscap sheets, six pages. Condition: good.