Notes by Howitt on Kulin from Barak

Page 9 of 103

Transcription - Page 9

5 The Tribe was governed by the old men and
there were head men called Ngŭrŭngaeta.
[These head men beam - crossed out] If a man was "sensible
and spoke straight and did no wrong to any one
the people would call him “ngŭrŭng-gaeta” and
listen to him and obey him. Billy Billary
the father of my cousin was a Ngŭrŭngaeta. So
was also Capt. Turnbull at Mt Macedon and
Billy Lonsdale and Mr DeVilliers in
Western Port.”

It was the Head man who summoned
assemblies for ceremonial, or for arranged
fights or for war. The messenger carried certain
articles which were appropriate to each kind of
message as his credentials and he carried the
message in his mouth. As an example maybe
taken a message sent by a ngŭrŭng-gaeta to assemble
the people to a [ceremonial an - crossed out] festive gathering at which
there would be corroborees and ball playing. The
messenger would then carry the [following - crossed out] yarŭk =
message stick + The message itself was called “Pai-ara”.
The meaning of the Yarŭk is “to bring up every man in
the bush – even if a man were living with a settler he must
come. If I sent such a Yarŭk I should say to the
Wirigiri – take this and give it to the Ngŭrŭngaeta at such
a place and tell him my Paiara. – that Ngŭrŭngaeta
would then show it to his [people - crossed out] men and then send it on”.
In company with the Yarŭk would be sent also
the Mangūrt which is a ball of about 2½ to 3 inches diameter
made of opossum skin with fur outside sown up tightly. This
ball is used in the favourite game of Ball play at which
the different totems take different sides. With the Kūlin
Būnjil and Waa took opposite sides. The Mangūrt
is also used to send to a friend as a token of
regard. It was pointed out to me by William
[that - crossed out] when I expressed a wish to send by him a small
present in money to an Omeo black of my acquaintance who lived in the
same hut with him; that my present ought to be
accompanied by a “Mangūrt” in order to make
“Charley's heart glad”. This was accordingly done.
Together with Yarŭk and Mangūrt the messenger

[written in left side margin]
"The messenger was called
Wir-i-gir-i and
would be a young man,
“the ngŭrŭng gaeta would
say to him go to [such - crossed out] that
mob and take the word
to meet us over there”

The Headman makes
the Yarŭk

Note here McAlpine's
account of how
Old Darby sent off
a messenger

This word Yarŭk
[??] think wrong
Yarūk is
magic -
message stick is
mūngū Kalk

Page 9 of 103

Document Details

Letter From
Letter To
Author Howitt, Alfred William
Country Australia
Colony/State Victoria
Holding Institution State Library of Victoria
Collection Name Alfred W. Howitt Collection
Registration Number MS9356/391
Medium Notes
Summary MS 9356 [Series] Correspondence and notes concerning aboriginal tribes - Aboriginal tribes of Victoria. [Sub Series] Kulin Nation [Item Title] Notes by Howitt titled 'The Kulin tribe. Informant 'Ber-uk' otherwise King William of the Yarra tribe'. [Summary note] 103 pages. Box 1053 [Folder] 2(b) & (c) [State Library Victoria record 2018]
Physical Description Handwritten notes, undated and numbered pages. Additional notations and annotations in the left hand margins; includes a newspaper article.