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Historical Event

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Date:

January 1, 1906

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Short Description:

A girl was killed, when she was bathing with several others, by a native, who decoyed her away. She was very plump; the object of killing her was to acquire this desirable quality. A big fire was made, and after removing her intestines, two natives carried her round the fire a few times in an upright position, the others meanwhile singing in a low voice. Then the body was put in the heart of the fire, where a space had been cleared, covered with ashes and cooked like a kangaroo.

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Title:

Book:

Person:

The Natives of Australia

Topics: (click to open)

Cannibalism
Man The Fat Hunter
Pre-civilization races
Fat

Important Text:

Before leaving the subject of animal food we must say a word or two on cannibalism. Human flesh is nowhere a regular article of food ; some blacks undoubtedly kill to eat, others only eat those who are killed in battle, or have died of disease. Sometimes there is a magical idea attaching to the use of human flesh or fat, especially kidney fat, which is cut out before death has taken place : it is held to convey to the eater the courage of the victim. Sometimes it is the bodies of enemies which are disposed of in this way ; in South Queensland it was the recognised method of giving honourable burial to your friends. In many parts both sexes and all classes eat human flesh ; elsewhere it is only the men who will do so. There are no special ceremonies connected with cooking or eating in most districts, and most parts of the body are eaten, the thighs being the bonne bouche. In West Australia, on the Gascoyne River, some ritual is found in connection with eating human flesh. A girl was killed, when she was bathing with several others, by a native, who decoyed her away. She was very plump ; the object of killing her was to acquire this desirable quality. A big fire was made, and after removing her intestines, two natives carried her round the fire a few times in an upright position, the others meanwhile singing in a low voice. Then the body was put in the heart of the fire, where a space had been cleared, covered with ashes and cooked like a kangaroo. One of the participants in the feast was a companion who had been bathing with her. 


In the Turribul tribes ceremonial combats follow the initiation ceremonies. If a man is killed in one of these his body is eaten. Each tribal group sits by its own fire, and a great medicine man singes the body all over till it turns copper coloured. Then the body is opened, the entrails and heart are buried, and pieces of the flesh cut off and thrown to the different parties ; the fat was rubbed on the faces of the principal medicine men, and the skin and bones were carried by the mother for months. The grave in which were the heart and other parts was so sacred that none save a few old medicine men would approach it ; it was marked with blackened sticks tied with grass. Near Maryborough the skin was taken off, and the body distributed to the men and old women, the father or father's brother officiating as carver. The kidney fat was rubbed on the spears, and the kidneys themselves stuck on the points ; this was to make the weapons deadly. The meat is stated to look like horseflesh and smell like beef when it is being cooked. Statements have been made that a girl was sacrificed in South Queensland to some evil spirit ; there is no evidence to show that this was the case, and it may be dismissed as an invention.

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