III

К оглавлению
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 
34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 
68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 
85 86 87 88 89 90 91 

These totemic decorations enable us to see that the totem is not merely a name and an emblem. It is in the course of the religious ceremonies that they are employed ; they are a part of the liturgy ; so while the totem is a collective label, it also has a religious character. In fact, it is in connection with it, that things are classified as sacred or profane. It is the very type of sacred thing.

The tribes of Central Australia, especially the Arunta, the Loritja, the Kaitish, the Unmatjera, and the llpirra,3 make con­stant use of certain instruments in their rites which are called the churinga by the Arunta, according to Spencer and Gillen, or the tjurunga, according to Strehlow.4 They are pieces of wood or bits of polished stone, of a great variety of forms, but generally oval or oblong.5 Each totemic group has a more or less important collection of these. Upon each of these is engraved a design - representing the totem of this same group.6 A certain number of the churinga have a hole at one end, through which goes a thread made of human hair or that of an opossum. Those which, are made of wood and are pierced in this way serve for exactly the same purposes as those instruments of the cult to which English ethnographers have given the name of " bull-roarers." By means of the thread by which they are suspended, they are whirled rapidly in the air in such a way as to produce a sort of humming identical with that made by the toys of this name still used by our children ; this deafening noise has a ritual

significance and accompanies all ceremonies of any importance. These sorts of churinga are real bull-roarers. But there are others which are not made of wood and are not pierced ; con­sequently they cannot be employed in this way. Nevertheless, they inspire the same religious sentiments.

In fact, every churinga, for whatever purpose it may be employed, is counted among the eminently sacred things ; there are none which surpass it in religious dignity. This is indicated even by the word which is used to designate tliem. It is not only a substantive but also an adjective meaning sacred. Also, among the several names which each Arunta has, there is one so sacred that it must not be revealed to a stranger ; it is pronounced but rarely, and then in a low voice and a sort of mysterious murmur. Now this name is called the aritna churinga (aritna means name).1 In general, the word churinga is used to designate all ritual acts ; for example, ilia churinga signifies the cult of the emu.2 Churinga, when used substantively, therefore designates the thing whose essential characteristic is sacredness. Profane persons, that is to say, women and young men not yet initiated into the religious life, may not touch or even see the churinga; they are only allowed to look at it from a distance, and even this is only on rare occasions.3

The churinga are piously kept in a special place, which the Arunta call the ertnatulunga.4 This is a cave or a sort of cavern hidden in a deserted place. The entrance is carefully closed by means of stones so cleverly placed that a stranger going past it could not suspect that the religious treasury of the clan was so near to him. The sacred character of the churinga is so great that it communicates itself to the locality where they are stored: the women and the uninitiated cannot approach it. It is only after their initiation is completely finished that the young men have access to it : there are some who are not esteemed worthy

of this favour except after years of trial. The religious nature radiates to a distance and communicates itself to all the sur­roundings : everything near by participates in this same nature and is therefore withdrawn from profane touch. Is one man pursued by another ? If he succeeds in reaching the ertnatulunga, be is saved; he cannot be seized there.2 Even a wounded animal which takes refuge there must be respected.3 Quarrels are for­bidden there. It is a place of peace, as is said in the Germanic societies ; it is a sanctuary of the totemic group, it is a veritable place of asylum.

But the virtues of the churinga are not manifested merely by the way in which it keeps the profane at a distance. If it is thus isolated, it is because it is something of a high religious value whose loss would injure the group and the individuals severely. It has all sorts of marvellous properties : by contact it heals wounds, especially those resulting from circumcision;4 it has the same power over sickness;5 t is useful for making the beard grow ;6 it confers important powers over the totemic species, whose normal reproduction it ensures ;7 it gives men force, courage and perseverance, while, on the other hand, it depresses and weakens their enemies. This latter belief is so firmly rooted that when two combatants stand pitted against one another, if one sees that the other has brought churinga against him, he loses confidence and his defeat is certain.8 Thus there is no ritual instrument which has a more important place in the religious ceremonies.9 By means of various sorts of anoint-ings, their powers are communicated either to the officiants or to the assistants ; to bring this about, they are rubbed over the members and stomach of the faithful after being covered with grease ;10 or sometimes they are covered with a down which flies away and scatters itself in every direction when they are

whirled ; this is a way of disseminating the virtues which are in them.1

But they are not useful merely to individuals ; the fate of the clan as a whole is bound up with theirs. Their loss is a disaster ; it is the greatest misfortune which can happen to the group.2 Sometimes they leave the ertnatulunga, for example when they are loaned to other groups.3 Then follows a veritable public mourning. For two weeks, the people of the totem weep and lament, covering their bodies with white clay just as they do when they have lost a relative.4 And the churinga are not left at the free disposition of everybody ; the ertnatulunga where they are kept is placed under the control of the chief of the group. It is true that each individual has special rights to some of them;5 yet, though he is their proprietor in a sense, he cannot make use of them except with the consent and under the direction of the chief. It is a collective treasury ; it is the sacred ark of the clan.6 The devotion of which they are the object shows the high price that is attached to them. The respect with which they are handled is shown by the solemnity of the movements.7 They are taken care of, they are greased, rubbed, polished, and when they are moved from one locality to another, it is in the midst of ceremonies which bear witness to the fact that this displacement is regarded as an act of the highest importance.8

Now in themselves, the churinga are objects of wood and stone like all others ; they are distinguished from profane things of the same sort by only one particularity : this is that the totemic mark is drawn or engraved upon them. So it is this mark and this alone which gives them their sacred character. It is true that according to Spencer and Gillen, the churinga serve as the residence of an ancestor's soul and that it is the presence of this soul which confers these properties.9 While

declaring this interpretation inexact, Strehlow, in his turn, proposes-an other which does not differ materially from the other: be claims that the churinga are considered the image of the ancestor's body, or the body itself.1 So, in any case, it would be sentiments inspired by the ancestor which fix themselves upon the material object, and convert it into a sort of fetish. But in the first place, both conceptions,—which, by the way, scarcely differ except in the letter of the myth,—have obviously been made up afterwards, to account for the sacred character of the churinga. In the constitution of these pieces of wood and bits of stone, and in their external appearance, there is nothing which pre­destines them to be considered the seat of an ancestral soul, or the image of his body. So if men have imagined this myth, it was in order to explain the religious respect which these things inspired in them, and the respect was not determined by the myth. This explanation, like so many mythological explanations, resolves the question only by repeating it in slightly different terms ; for saying that the churinga is sacred and saying that it has such and such a relation with a sacred being, is merely to proclaim the same fact in two different ways ; it is not accounting for them. Moreover, according to the avowal of Spencer and Gillen, there are some churinga among the Arunta which are made by the old men of the group, to the knowledge of and before the eyes of all;2 these obviously do not come from the great ancestors. However, except for certain differences of degree, they have the same power as the others and are preserved in the same manner. Finally, there are whole tribes where the churinga is never associated with a spirit.3 Its religious nature comes to it, then, from some other source, and whence could it come, if not from the totemic stamp which it bears ? It is to this image, therefore, that the demonstrations of the rite are really addressed ; it is this which sanctifies the object upon which it is carved.

Among the Arunta and the neighbouring tribes, there are two other liturgical instruments closely connected with the totem

and the churinga itself, which ordinarily enters into their com­position : they are the nurtunja and the waninga.

The nurtunja,1 which is found among the northern Arunta and their immediate neighbours,2 is made up principally of a vertical support which is either a single lance, or several lances united into a bundle, or of a simple pole.3 Bunches of grass are fastened all around it by means of belts or little cords made of hair. Above this, down is placed, arranged either in circles or in parallel lines which run from the top to the bottom of the support. The top is decorated with the plumes of an eagle-hawk. This is only the most general and typical form ; in particular cases, it has all sorts of variations.4

The waninga, which is found only among the southern Arunta, the Urabunna and the Loritja, has no one unique model either. Reduced to its most essential elements, it too consists in a vertical support, formed by a long stick or by a lance several yards high, with sometimes one and sometimes two cross-pieces.5 In the former case, it has the appearance of a cross. Cords made either of human hair or opossum or bandicoot fur diagonally cross the space included between the arms of the cross and the extremities of the central axis ; as they are quite close to each other, they form a network in the form of a lozenge. When there are two cross-bars, these cords go from one to the other and from these to the top and bottom of the support. They are sometimes covered with a layer of down, thick enough to conceal the founda­tion. Thus the waninga has the appearance of a veritable flag.6

Now the nurtunja and the waninga, which figure in a multitude of important rites, are the object of a religious respect quite like that inspired by the churinga. The process of their manufacture and erection is conducted with the greatest solemnity. Fixed in the earth, or carried by an officiant, they mark the central point of the ceremony : it is about them that the dances take place and the rites are performed. In the course of the initiation, the

novice is led to the foot of a nurtunja erected for the occasion. Someone says to him, " There is the nurtunja of your father; many young men have already been made by it." After that, the initiate must kiss the nurtunja.1 By this kiss, he enters into relations with the religious principle which resides there ; it is a veritable communion which should give the young man the force required to support the terrible operation of sub-incision.2 The nurtunja also plays a considerable role in the mythology of these societies. The myths relate that in the fabulous times of the great ancestors, the territory of the tribe was overrun in every direction by companies composed exclusively of individuals of the same totem.3 Each of these troops had a nurtunja with it. When it stopped to camp, before scattering to hunt, the members fixed their nurtunja in the ground, from the top of which their churinga was suspended.4 That is equivalent to saying that they confided the most precious things they had to it. It was at the same time a sort of standard which served as a rallying-centre for the group. One cannot fail to be struck by the analogies between the nurtunja and the sacred post of the Omaha.5

Now its sacred character can come from only one cause : that is that it represents the totem materially. The vertical lines or rings of down which cover it, and even the cords of different colours which fasten the arms of the waninga to the central axis, are not arranged arbitrarily, according to the taste of the makers; they must conform to a type strictly determined by tradition which, in the minds of the natives, represents the totem.6 Here we cannot ask, as we did in the case of the churinga, whether the veneration accorded to this instrument of the cult is not merely the reflex of that inspired by the ancestors ; for it is a rule that each nurtunja and each waninga last only during the ceremony where they are used. They are made all over again every time that it is necessary, and when the rite is once accomplished, they are stripped of their ornaments and the elements out of which they are made are scattered.7 They are nothing more than images—and temporary images at that—

of the totem, and consequently it is on this ground, and on this ground alone, that they play a religious role.

So the churinga, the nurtunja and the waninga owe their religious nature solely to the fact that they bear the totemic emblem. It is the emblem that is sacred. It keeps this character, no matter where it may be represented. Sometimes it is painted upon rocks; these paintings are called churinga ilkinia, sacred drawings.1 The decorations with which the officiants and assistants at the religious ceremonies adorn themselves have the same name: women and children may not see them.2 In the course of certain rites, the totem is drawn upon the ground. The way in which this is done bears witness to the sentiments inspired by this design, and the high value attributed to it ; it is traced upon a place that has been previously sprinkled, and saturated with human blood,3 and we shall presently see that the blood is in itself a sacred liquid, serving for pious uses only. When the design has been made, the faithful remain seated on the ground before it, in an attitude of the purest devotion.4 If we give the word a sense corresponding to the mentality of the primitive, we may say that they adore it. This enables us to understand how the totemic blazon has remained something very precious for the Indians of North America : it is always sur­rounded with a sort of religious halo.

But if we are seeking to understand how it comes that these totemic representations are so sacred, it is not without interest to see what they consist in.

Among the Indians of North America, they are painted, engraved or carved images which attempt to reproduce as faith­fully as possible the external aspect of the totemic animal. The means employed are those which we use to-day in similar circum­stances, except that they are generally cruder. But it is not the same in Australia, and it is in the Australian societies that we must seek the origin of these representations. Although the Australian may show himself sufficiently capable of imitating the forms of things in a rudimentary way,5 sacred representations generally seem to show no ambitions in this line : they consist essentially in geometrical designs drawn upon the churinga, the nurtunga, rocks, the ground, or the human body. They are either straight or curved lines, painted in different ways,6 and

the whole having only a conventional meaning. The connection between the figure and the thing represented is so remote wi indirect that it cannot be seen, except when it is pointed out Only the members of the clan can say what meaning is attached to such and such combinations of lines.1 Men and women are generally represented by semicircles, and animals by whole circles or spirals,2 the tracks of men or animals by lines of points, .etc. The meaning of the figures thus obtained is so arbitrary that a single design may have two different meanings for the men of two different totems, representing one animal here, and another animal or plant there. This is perhaps still more apparent with the nurtunja and waninga. Each of them represents a different totem. But the few and simple elements which enter into their composition do not allow a great variety of combina­tions. The result is that two nurtunja may have exactly the same appearance, and yet express two things as different as a gum tree and an emu.3 When a nurtunja is made, it is given a meaning which it keeps during the whole ceremony, but which, in the last resort, is fixed by convention.

These facts prove that if the Australian is so strongly inclined ,to represent his totem, it is in order not to have a portrait of it before his eyes which would constantly renew the sensation of it; it is merely because he feels the need of representing the idea which he forms of it by means of material and external .Signs, no matter what these signs may be. We are not yet ready to attempt to understand what has thus caused the primitive i to write his idea of his totem upon his person and upon different objects, but it is important to state at once the nature of the Syneed which has given rise to these numerous representations.4