Howitt to Bulmer 18/April/1899

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Transcription - Page 1

Mr Bulmer 18/4/99
Thanking him for the great trouble which he has taken. I think with a little
more the table will be just [the comparative table - crossed out] what I want for comparison
with one taken from a central Aust. tribe. I shall feel very much obliged if
he will give the following information:- For the present to simplify matters
I have separated the different “descents” and can join them together
when completed.

(1) What dou [sic] you imply when you say the Yallung was a “companion wife”
to a man called Birraark who also had Mary the mother of Kangaroo Jack?
What is a “companion wife”? Was Mary the [“companion "wife” - crossed out] actual wife
(not tribal wife) of Birraark – or his “companion wife”? Was not this Birraark
called “Mundanan"?

(2) as to Table A. Can you [give me - crossed out] find out the name of a sister of Bembuikil and her descendants
[of Bem - crossed out]

(3) Table B. Who was Mary’s first husband – before Tulaba – the own father of
Charley Blair and Emma? [I an - crossed out] Was Jenny (the wife of old Kangaroo Jack
the [brother of Ch- crossed out] sister of Charley Blair and Emma.

(4) Table C. Who was the first wife of Dick Cooper?

The reason why I am so desirous of having this table complete is for
the purpose of showing by comparison the nature of the relationship + marriages
with those in similar lines of descent in a central Australian tribe.
This [K - crossed out] central Australian tribe has “group marriage” – the Kurnai had
individual marriage, yet both have much the same kind of system of
relationships. Finally when I have the table complete I shall [??]?able
all the relationship – distinguishing between “own” and “tribal” which is a very important

As an instance take the Central Australian tribes – and their term “father’. Ergo being a Dieri
blackfellow, [my - crossed out] the husband of my own mother, all his brothers, and all the "pinnai - crossed out]
pirauru or accessory husbands of my own mother and of all her sisters, are my fathers.
There are two forms of marriage in these tribes the noa marriage which arises through betrothal
of two [person - crossed out] individuals, and the pirauru marriage which arises through the allocation
of accessory husband to a woman, or accessory wives to a man. The accessory husbands
have access to these pirauru - wives, so that there is “group marriage” as an existing
fact. Speaking as a Kurnai would, the “accessory husband” of a woman would
be the “biebba minyan” of her children. Bruthen Mungi was the bubba minyan
of Tulaba, but he was only nominally the [?binbad?] of Bembuikils wife.
Here is the vital distinction between the marriage system of the central Australian
tribe + that of the Kurnai. For this the table are required as well as of other

[written in the left side margin]
PS Re Prickly Moses

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Document Details

Date 18 Apr 1899
Letter From Howitt, Alfred William
Letter To Bulmer, Reverend John
Country Australia
Colony/State Victoria
Holding Institution State Library of Victoria
Collection Name Alfred W. Howitt Collection
Registration Number MS9356/401
Medium Letter
Summary MS 9356 [Series] Correspondence and notes concerning aboriginal tribes - Aboriginal tribes of Victoria. [Sub Series] Kurnai [Item Title] Draft letter from A. W. Howitt to John Bulmer. [Summary note] 1 page. 1899 April 18. Box 1053 [Folder] 3(a) [State Library Victoria record 2018]
Physical Description Draft letter handwritten in black ink with pencil annotations.