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Transcription - Page 30

Insert [at?] p(5) 9 [all underlined]

Such beliefs as these explain much that would
otherwise seem unnecessary or inexplicable in the
tribal burial customs).

[*Line from here to place this below]

The Kurnai rolled up their [crossed out - dead] corpse
tightly and corded [crossed out - him] it in a sheet of bark [crossed out - They carried the] with them
[crossed out - corpse] it for a long [crossed out - period] time. In other words the
dead member
of the group accompanied it in its accustomed wanderings.
That the ghost of the deceased was supposed to accompany and
watch over its living relatives is evident from the custom
of carrying the "brett" or dead hand. Soon after death
one hand [crossed out - one or both hands] are cut off, or both hand or both the hands [crossed out - were cut off]
wrapped up in grass and dried. A string of twisted opossum
hair was attached to the [crossed out - both] hand so that it could be hung
round the neck and worn in contact with the bare skin
under the left arm. It was carried by the parent, or child
brother or sister of the deceased. The belief was that such a hand
would in the approach of danger punch or [crossed out - scratch] push the
wearer. This signal being given the hand would be taken
from the neck and suspended in front of the face, the string
being held between the finger and thumb. If the hand
remained at rest the question would be again put but now
facing another [crossed out - point of the] part of the horizon, and so on.
The response was by [crossed out -the] the hand vibrating in some direction
and that was the [?area?] from which the danger is supposed to be

When the Aurora Australis, "Mungan's fire" was seen,
all in the camp swing the "dead hand" towards the alarming
portent, shout[crossed out -ing] such words as these send it away! send it
away! do not let it burn us up!"

[Line across page]

The burial practice of the Kulin [crossed out - also persistent that their] them
[crossed out - belief of the] the murup of the dead "walked". With the
body of a man were buried his personal property and his stone
tomahawk. With the Woewurrung tribe it is said weapons were not buried
or placed at the grave lest the Murup "might [crossed out - 2 words]
do someone hurt". In one instance however, that of a noted hunter
his "Murriwun" - that is his spear thrower was stuck in
the grave by his right side " so that he might have it handy".

In the case of
[crossed out - The burial [??] however did pla who] Buckley
[crossed out - than when [??] ] a spear totem [planted?] in the grave of the [??]
[crossed out - was which first a] Murraugurk [crossed out - because he was found]
[crossed out - near that persons grave and carrying his spear which] had
[crossed out - been stuck into it,] and the part of his being part of [the?] his was when
from as was [??] of the [??].

The Coast Murring having [crossed out - went] tied up the body of their
deceased member after themanner done the Kurnai placed it
at the [words crossed out -first up high tree] root of a tall tree, up which the medicine
man climbed, followed by all the men present. They then
shouted out wuestions to the [crossed out - gh] tūlūgal (1) or ghost of the
deceased, and was supposed to receive replies, [from where?] as by
the name of the person who had caused his death.

[Left margin note bottom of page]
(1) tūlū - death
gal - if [??] [??] to
the [??] [??]

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Document Details

Letter From
Letter To
Author Howitt, Mr Alfred William
Country Australia
Colony/State Victoria
Holding Institution Museums Victoria
Collection Name Alfred W. Howitt Collection
Registration Number XM 593
Medium Notes
Summary The content of the notes relate largely to the legends, religion, beliefs and customs for a number of groups in southeastern Australia. Beliefs and various legends including a number related to the earth and sky; and to Bunjil (Eaglehawk). A.W. Howitt also recounts a story by Berak [William Barak] who visited his sick son in Melbourne.
Physical Description Notes, incomplete, handwritten, undated. 25 foolscap sheets, 25 pages, some with slips of paper attached. Text 'struck through' with vertical pencilled lines. Condition: some pages with tattered edges.