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Transcription of Box 12: Howitt correspondence Tylor papers Pitt Rivers Museum manuscript collections Part 1

HowittHowitt [part only] Courtesy: Centre for Gippsland Studies Pictures Collection, Monash University Research Repository are transcriptions of the letters from A.W. Howitt of Victoria, Australia, to Edward Burnett Tylor of Oxford, these letters are of relevance to the development of museum anthropology at Oxford and very important in the development of the discipline of anthropology in Australia. 

For a full catalogue of all Pitt Rivers Museum manuscript collections see here

Alfred William Howitt (1830-1908) was an Australian explorer, natural scientist and anthropologist. He was the anthropological partner of Lorimer Fison, see here for this first part of Fison's correspondence with Tylor. Note that Howitt's parents were British Quakers (like Tylor), see here, they became interested in spiritualism (like Tylor, but presumably more positively), and his mother ended up a Roman Catholic (unlike Tylor). It is likely that the Howitt and Tylor families knew (of) each other. Note that Tylor possessed a 'spirit photograph' (showing A.W. Howitt's father and grand-daughter?), which he used when he was investigating spiritualism (see Photographic collections, PRM; 2009.148.3). All the letters have been transcribed and have been presented in 3 parts in the order in which they were catalogued. Note that the transcriptions are a first draft, they may not necessarily be 100 per cent accurate and do not include the diacretic marks that Howitt adds in the handwritten originals and which appear in his journal articles.

Warning: these transcripts contain reference to secret-sacred objects.


Howitt 1

19 Cheyne Walk



Oct'ber 22n/81

Dear Dr Tylor

I fear to be troublesome in asking questions -- but my Brother (Alfred Howitt) requests me to enquire from you of the "Institution Ethnographique" of Paris he writes he is led to suppose it is a "world-wide association of men of science & letters and to include crowned heads scientific men Rawlinson, Max Müller &c &c. [1] He has been elected to be a "correspondent délégné. If you will kindly answer me this question I shall be grateful.

He has not yet succeeded in obtaining a "Tundun" for you -- But hopes to do so. A [illegible] has spread amongst the natives at the knowledge of his search after their mystic implements and thus, for the time being, none are forthcoming!!!

He is hard at work in his Ethnological enquiries and trusts he is on the track of unearthing some very curious facts -- but time will show.

We are just returned from abroad and I found my Brothers letter awaiting me --

We pray that you are well and have taken some agreeable autumn trip after your many labours.

Believe me, my dear Sir,

Ever yours sincerely

Anna M Howitt Watts [2]

To Dr E.B. Tylor


[1] Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900), Professor of Comparative Philology, University of Oxford. It is not so certain which Rawlinson was referred to, possibly Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (1810-1895) Assyriologist.

[2] Anna Mary Watts (1824-1884), Howitt's sister and a painter and writer. She and Tylor were both brought up Quakers and may have known each other for quite a long time.


Howitt 2

Sale, Gippsland, Victoria

Nov 21. 1881

E.B. Tylor Esq D.C.L. LL.D

London, England

Dear Sir

In the last letter I received from Mr Fison he requested me to forward to you some particulars as to the exceptional intersexual customs of the Australian Aborigines which are being brought under my notice in the Enquiries I am now making. It has seemed to me that I can do this best by extracting a selection from the materials in my possession and to make this selection supplement a paper which I forward at the same time with this to my sister Mrs Watts for transmission to you. [1] This paper you will find is entitled from "mother right to father right" and gives a resumé of the views at which we have so far arrived as to the probable causes of the change in the line of descent which seems to have occurred in Australian tribes. We forward it to you in the hope that you will kindly communicate it to the Anthropological Institute. The notes I send separately for your information, have been extracted with reference to the tribes which I have selected as examples in the paper referred to. [2] Sometime ago my sister communicated to me your wish to obtain some examples of the wooden humming instrument called by the Kurnai "Tundun". I communicated with a number of my correspondents but I regret to say that up to the present time I have only procured one example, or to speak more correctly that one correspondent has procured one example (from Queensland) which is on its way to me. He writes me that the Blackfellow who gave it to him earnestly requested him to keep it from the sight of women and children. I have one as used by the Kurnai and I hope to obtain others; but it is no easy matter to get them. [3]

If I can be of any service to you in procuring any special information which you may be in want of it will afford me much pleasure; I am in communication with over fifty correspondents in various parts of Australia who are more or less successfully working for me and under my direction.

I am dear Sir

yours faithfully

A.W. Howitt.

[New page]

I have not as yet obtained particulars as to the exceptional customs of the Wakelbura tribe [4] but the following will serve from a kindred tribe near Rockhampton (Queensland) The Kuinmurbura [5] as given to me by Mr W.H. Flowers [?] of Pine Mountain.

"The girl is promised by her parents in marriage when 3 or 4 years old. The ceremony is thus: the parents of the girl paint her very carefully and put feathers into her hair Her uncle, cousin, or some other blackfellow then takes her to her future husband's camp and seats her at his back and close to him. The future husband sits cross legged and not even once looks at the girl. The conducting blackfellow after a time takes the feathers from the girl's hair and puts them into the mans hair, after which he takes the girl back to her father's camp.

The future husband after this, constantly sends presents of fruit fish, game &c to the girl and sometimes she may go to his camp and eat with him, but he never goes near her mother's camp, or speaks to her mother, always sending his presents by some other person.

When the father of the girl considers her old enough he tells the husband and sends the girl as usual to get yams or other food, with the other women. The husband paints himself, takes all his weapons and follows, inviting all the unmarried men in the camp to help him. When they find the gins, [6] he goes forward alone and tells the girl he has come for her, and takes her by the hand, or wrist, the other gins at once surround her and try to keep her from him. She cries and tries to get away, and if she does not like him she bites his wrist, thus refusing him, when he throws her hand away and leaves her. If he wants her very much, he will try again some other day, and perhaps by force prevent her biting his wrist. If she does not bite his wrist, and if he cannot get her away from the other women [insert] women [end insert] he calls the unmarried men who accompany him, and while they hold the other women, he takes the girl away, and in the evening  returns to his own camp with her. The next morning the husband goes out to look for food and each of the unmarried men (singly, and in turn) visit the bride who confers her favours upon them.

The following particulars as to the Jus Primae noctis in the Kunandaburi [7] tribe at Mt Howitt, Coopers Creek has been given by Mr W. J. O'Donnell late of Mt Howitt station of that place. [8] 

Female children during their infancy are given by their parents to certain boys who claim them as their future wives as soon as they arrive at the age of puberty and sometimes even before. Before taking the girl [insert] the girl [end insert] the man asks the permission of her father (or that of her mother is sufficient) and he waits till she is some distance from the camp. He then seizes her with the the aid of some friend who is "Abbinja" to her, this [insert] that [end insert] is who might marry her, he drags her away, the girl biting resisting all she can, biting and scratching and screaming. No one interferes, the other women only laugh. Having taken her a sufficient distance they are joined by one, or more men. The who [sic] arms [insert] owns [end insert] the girl in most cases then returns to the camp. The men who are "abbinja" then have connection with her and often keep her two or three days before returning to the camp. On the girl's return all the males in the camp, no matter what their relationship -- even the girl's father -- have connection with her; sometimes they keep up these ceremonies for two or three days many days, having a dance each night. The girl is then taken possession of by her husband and if she runs away, he beats her severely or cuts her with a knife.

In this tribe there are ceremonial corroborees held at times, not only when they have large social gatherings, but also when not many are present these are called "Werra-jonka-munni" (i.e. Emission of Semen Corroborees). The women At these some one woman is selected from any class or totem and all the men and boys have intercourse with her, no matter what the relationships may be.

Information as to the Mukjarawaint tribe [9] is at present scanty, but I have [insert] I have [end insert] hopes of being able before long to make personal enquiries from the few remaining people belonging to this and other neighbouring tribes of North Western Victoria. My informant, a very intelligent half caste who was brought up in the tribe by his grand-mother who saved him from being killed when born, stated distinctly that there was no license whatever allowed at marriages. According to him a marriage was arranged between the parents of the young man on one side and of the young woman on the other. The ceremony of marriage consisted in the woman being taken to her husband's "gunya" [10] in the evening by her grandfather, father, or brother, as the case may be who had the disposal of her. She was supposed to lie on the ground outside the hut that night. The following evening a grand corroboree was held, at which the bridegroom exhibited his skill in dancing an doing through various performances. After these festivities the wife inhabited her husband's "gunya". My informant stated that the only cases in which any license was permitted was, for instance, in a case of elopement. As an illustration he said Suppose a Garchuka boy (white cockatoo) ran off with a wurant girl (black cockatoo). He would first tell all the other Garchuka boys who [insert] to be [end insert] on their guard as the Wurant men would fight with them if they could not catch him, on pursuit being made. Then on his running off with the girl he would lend her to the Garchukas for one day and after that she would belong to him alone. The other The other other exception named, was in the case of a war-captive. The instance he gave me was one where in consequence of a Garchuka man having dreamed that a Wurant man had "Burned [insert] burned [end insert] some of his hair" -- a number of Garchukas went [insert] would go [end insert] by night and killed him and captured his wife. She first was [insert] would be [end insert] the communal property of all the men present and was afterwards the sole property either of her captor or of the leader of the party.

All that there is to be stated as to exceptional customs connected with marriage [insert] among the Gippsland Kurnai [end insert] I have already detailed in "Kamilaroi and Kurnai." As to the Tuna [?] Tribe I have at present no more precise details than I mentioned in the appendix to that work, but the following particulars may be interesting and may perhaps serve as an illustration of the customs of the tribes from Port Lincoln along the coast westward. My informant is Mr D. Elphinstone Roe, lately telegraph Field telegraph Inspector of Telegraphs at Eucla, Great Australian Bight. The tribe is called IKula = the morning star. It is divided in its local [insert] local [end insert] organisation, as usual, into sub tribes or classes, and is governed by head men known to the spoken of by Mr Roe as "Doctors". In its social organisation it is divided into four classes having totemic names. Descent is counted -- in consequence of peculiar marriage rules between the classes -- either through the father for boys or [insert] and [end insert] through the mother for girls, or through the father only, according to which the classes are, to which the father and mother belong. The class arrangements are peculiar but I cannot here enter into a description of them.

Marriage is by betrothal, subject to peculiar rules of veto by the "Doctors". Unfaithfulness in the woman to her husband is punished in the first instance by branding with a firestick, for a second offence, she is speared in the leg, for a third offence she is killed. It is very rarely the case that women are lent -- except to visitors but [insert] and [end insert] this is occasionally done in the case of a friend who has no wife; but in all cases he must be of the same class name as the husband. The most frequent cases are where one of the Head men (Doctors) request such a loan on behalf of a friendly visitor. When a man arrives on a visit -- as for instance a messenger and has no wife with him or one who is under age, that is who has not passed through the ceremonies of initiation for young women, [mark] [insert] [mark] these ceremonies include the slitting open of the urethra back from the glans penis and Mr Roe says the girls are subject at the same time to some operation in cunutis [sic] with the g... [illegible] part the particulars of which he had not yet obtained [end insert] the Head-man will procure temporary wife for him. It is only a woman who is suitable to his class who will do. For instance In the case of a man who had only with him a wife (who is a mere child) -- not having passed through the ceremonies of initiation for girls), if she has a sister or female cousin in the camp who is married, this one is chosen as the temporary wife. Female captives are only made from the surrounding "wild tribes". For instance supposing a hunting party fall in with an surprise some of the "Long noses" they would kill the men and carry off the women who would for a time be common property. She [insert] Such a woman [end insert] would then be passed on to the men of the next class name. After being common property in the classes she might be allowed to go home, but she would have the right of remaining as a "slave wife" to some man of one particular class (Budu); and this they often preferred rather than run the risk of being killed on the way back by "wild men" (Kokita menang). None but a Budu man might marry her, and he only if he obtained a majority of votes from the Doctors and the old Buderas. These Buderas (The Budera class appears to be the parent class of Budu). The Doctors must also guarantee that no evil will happen to the tribe through magic (mobung) on account of the marriage. Mr Roe describes a "slave wife" as an object of pity being the slave of the whole camp and as long as there are any single men she there, she lives with them in turn. She is also the "assistant" to the wife of any "Doctor" who may be in camp. The "Doctors" sometimes give her as a wife to some Budu who has no other chance of obtaining a wife -- usually some very old man. 

Narrinyeri [insert] tribe [end insert] of South Australia My informants have been the late Rev. G. Taplin [11] and Mr Frederick Taplin now superintendent of the Point Macleay mission S.A. [12] The exceptional ceremonies appear to be rarely practised. A man had the right of exchanging his wife with another, but it was regarded with disfavour by the tribe clan. A woman who was unfaithful to her husband suffered corporal punishment at his hands. In many instances he refused to again live with her, and in that case she was called "Kanawurla" (theirs) and became common to the men of her clan. In past times when a woman ran away with a young man without being given to him by her relatives, she he might call in his male friends to join him in having sexual intercourse with her. But if the woman was given away by her relatives this was not the case. It is said that the young mans male relatives would only defend him from those of the woman on condition of being allowed the above [illegible word crossed out] right for a time.

The Narrinyeri state positively that female captives were not taken in war [insert] with other clans [end insert] as being contrary to their idea of fairness in fight. But it is said that where a party of skirmishers from one clan fell in with a few women of a hostile clan (their opponents) they treated them as common to themselves and then left them. The old men and old women now living reiterated this statement as to war captives, as a further inquiry. Youths of the Narrinyeri were not permitted to take a wife during the time of initiation or subsequent probation, during which but during the latter they were permitted complete license as regarded those of the other sex (unmarried) who were [insert] not only [end insert] such as he might lawfully marry, but even according to further inquires they might "approach even girls of their own clan and totem". Mr [insert] sign meaning insert, but no note attached [end insert] Taplin however adds that some of [insert] (his ?) [in pencil] [end insert] people stated that this latter privilege was not permitted some generations ago.

I have as yet not been able to learn particulars as to the exceptional custom (jus primae noctis &c) of the Kulin tribe. My informant mentioned the existence of the custom of exchanging wives and if lending wives to strangers on a visit. I have not [illegible] problem I fear that the time is past when any details might be procured.

Notes [by transcriber]

[1] see Howitt 1 letter from her). 

[2] This paper is 'From Mother-right to Father-right' Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol 12 (1883) pp. 30-46.

[3] Evidence in later Howitt letters confirms that the Queensland ceremonial object (known to Tylor as a 'bullroarer') is 1917.553.461, recorded as being bequeathed by Tylor after his death and described in the Pitt Rivers Museum accession book as 'bull-roarer, bribbun, swung at initiation ceremonies, Chepara tribe, south Queensland coast (south of Brisbane) (Figured in A.W. Howitt's "S. Austr." fig. 35). The Kurnai example may have been 1911.32.10, donated by E.B. Tylor as he left Oxford, described as 'Bull-roarer, "large Tundun", Kurnai, Gippsland, Victoria', and in the card catalogue as 'used in the jeraeil ceremony (initiation) or 1911.32.11 or 1911.32.12 '2 Bullroarers, rukut tundun". All 3 are recorded as having been collected by Howitt. In total Tylor acquired 7 Australian 'bullroarers'. I am not clear which publication 1917.53.461 might be figured in, it could be The Native Tribes of South-East Australia'  published in 1904?

[4] Howitt discusses the Wakelbura on page 62 of Native Tribes of SE Australia.

[5] Howitt discusses the Kuinmurbura on page 111 and other pages of Native Tribes of SE Australia.

[6] Aboriginal women or wife, according to

[7] Howitt and Fison discuss the Kunandaburi on pages 328 and 365 in Kamilaroi and Kurnai. 'Jus primae noctis' meaning 'droit de seigneur' or the right of a lord to first sleep with a bride, or in the Howitt's discussion of the Australian context, an elder. 

[8] O'Donnell was one of Howitt's informants, his identity has not been confirmed.

[9] Howitt discusses the Mukjarawaint on page 245 etc of Native Tribes of SE Australia.

[10] According to here, gunya is 'A temporary shelter of the Aborigines, usually made of sheets of bark and/or branches; any makeshift shelter or dwelling. Cf. Humpy, Mia-mia, Wiltja, Wurley.'

[11] George Taplin (1831-1879) Missionary and teacher.

[12] Frederick William Taplin (1854-1889) was the son of George, and succeeded him as superintendent of the mission. He later died in a fire in Adelaide.


Howitt 3

Sale Gippsland Victoria

Jany [sic January] 21 1881 [Added in blue pen by another hand '(2)' and in pencil 'wrongly dated', presumably meaning 1882]

Edward B. Tylor Esq

D.C.L. &c

Linden Wellington


Dear Sir

My sister has sent to me a note you kindly addressed to her on November 13th last, on the subject of the Ancient Mysteries. I am much obliged for the trouble you have taken. So far all I have been able to gather has been of little use. The highly developed mysteries of the ancients may have sprung from earlier mysteries such as are found now among savages but yet it may be next to impossible to show the points of similarity. I am making the utmost endeavours to get "behind the veil" [insert] here [end insert], whether I shall succeed is another matter. My latest move has been, after consultation with my aboriginal friends here to send two messengers to the tribes east of Gippsland calling them to a ceremony of initiation in the Monaro tableland. I have in this "taken the bull by the horns" in an unprecedented manner, but my two messengers seem to be no wise doubtful of success. I trust that the result will justify their confidence. Fortunately I know well the two headmen--one of them the tribal wizard in whose territory the meeting is proposed to be so that so far it may be favourable and as to the more distant tribe one of my messengers belongs to it and the other was I may almost say adopted into it as a boy. If I succeed I shall be present at the ceremonies early in April next. I mention this as I know that you take a kind interest in the work I am attempting to carry out here.

After this long preamble I now come to the part of your note which has caused me to trouble you with this. Fire making apparatus has not been used in this district for at least 25 years [insert] so far as I know [end insert] and it may well be difficult to find any one who knows how to affect use it. I do not doubt however that I can find out the word used. I believe that one piece was the pithy flower flower stem of the Grasstree and the second piece a spindle of hard wood twirled between the hands. At Coopers Creek the Dieri and Yantui-unta obtained fire 20 years ago by similarly twirling a hard spindle in a small hollow in one end of their shields. The shield was the one, if I remember right which was used for hand to hand combat with club (or boomerang) not the broader one used in spear fights. The wood of which the shields was made was light coloured and as I remember did not show much grain. I was told that the shields were obtained from tribes to the Eastward by barter for string girdles &c made by the Coopers Creek blacks. I have seen them twirling the stick to produce fire and have observed that they put a pinch of charcoal dust and sand in the hole to increase the friction. 

I shall now institute enquiries here and shall also write to correspondents in nearby settled districts where "fire raising" by drilling or other apparatus is still probably practiced. I shall then let you know the result.

I regret the tundun promised me for you have not yet come to hand. I shall not loose [sic] sight of your request and sooner or later shall get them for you. I have one of this tribe (Kurnai) but not for others. In the matter of message sticks I have been at work for a long time. I have secured some which I will send to you. After I have made careful drawings of them for future use. I have not yet found one instance where the marks upon them convey any meaning by the blacks from which [insert] whom [end insert] they have been obtained. They say the marks are only for ornament and that the "stick" is more of a token to accredit the messenger. This does not disprove the positive statements made eg by Mr Dawson that in some places the marks have a meaning. So far I cannot find an instance either in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria. Message sticks were not known to or used by the Kurnai. The messenger sometimes carried a boomerang, shield or spear as a token from the sender of the message. 

You may rely upon my not loosing sight of your request

I am Dear Sir

yours very truly

A.W. Howitt


Howitt 4

19 Cheyne Walk



Jan'ry 5th / 82

Dear Dr Tylor

I forward to you the enclosed from my Brother which together with a registered MS (also forwarded registered) reached me last Monday.

My Brother asked me to go through the MS before sending it [insert] you [end insert] just to make more distinct the word class as distinguished from classes  as he fears his hand was difficult for the printers to read and I know his hand-writing better than any one does in England I think the words will now be distinguishable -- but there are many local names that I did not dare to "touch up", not knowing which they were. I trust you may be able to read them. He suggests whether when printed would be of any help to you if I read the proofs? but I fancy now you can read the hand as well as I can myself -- but if needful I would with pleasure read the proof.

My Brother says also "when the paper is printed I should like 25 copies in addition to those allowed to the authors. I suppose they can be purchased?

I am glad to hear that the searches for Tunduns has been partly successful. [insert] He had evidently not yet received my request for the firesticks for you [end insert] With all good wishes for the New Year

Believe me

Dear Dr Tylor

Very sincerely yours

A.M.H. Watts


Howitt 5

Sale Gippsland

June 22 1882

EB Tylor ESq DCL FRS &

Linden, Wellington Somerset


Dear Sir

I forward to you by this post a paper on the Australian class system which I shall feel obliged if you will kindly communicate to the Anthropological Institute. [1] I have several others in hand which with your permission I will send as they get themselves finished. I have thought it well as it may be years before I may be in a position to publish, to communicate from time to time something in the nature of a progress report. I shall be obliged if you can arrange for me to have 25 [insert] 50 [end insert] copies for which I shall be only too glad to pay the cost.

I must now explain the delay in procuring for you the humming instrument and the fire stick which you expressed a desire to obtain. I have now one tundun (Gippsland) one Bribbun (Queensland) and I expect shortly several others. [2] It is not however easy to procure these as the blackfellows dont like to give them up nor tell let white people see them. I have also a fire drilling apparatus from Queensland; I shall shortly have one belonging to the district and I am promised another from southern Queensland. I hope also to procure others. So soon as I obtain those or others, or find that the delay will be too long I shall send the collection off to you with further particulars. No delay will take place on my part (through negligence) of your wishes But for my correspondents I cannot so well answer

I remain Dear Sir

yours very truly

A.W. Howitt

P.S. I find that I have omitted to mention that I read your most kind notice of our work, in your Presidential address. [3] I have felt most encouraged by you and with my enquiries. One [sic on] one point however I found myself not able to agree with you--namely as to the avoidance by a man of his wifes father. This was new to me, but I do not know all of the Australian tribes or I dare say even a touch of them and I shall now direct special enquiries on this point. You will observe that I have noted this in the paper I send.


[1] 'Notes on the Australian class system', Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol 12 (1883) pp. 496-512.

[2] See note [3] for letter Howitt 2 for further information. The only firesticks from Australia that came from Tylor are 1911.1.66-68 and 70. See next letter, transcribed below, which suggests that these firesticks, though sent to Tylor, were never accessioned into the Pitt Rivers Museum collections. Their current location is unknown.

[3] 'President's Address, Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol 10 (1881) pp. 440-458. In it Tylor said/ wrote: 'Among recent works of importance in the problem of primitive society is the volume by Fison and Howitt on the Kamilaroi and Kurnai tribes of Australia, with special reference to their laws of marriage and descent. Though this is Mr Fison's first systematic work on the subject, he has long been engaged in its study. Indeed, it is he who obtained, year's ago the curious statement of Mr Lance, that the intermarrying groups of Australia were actually united in a kind of limited communal marriage. This statement became one of the foundations of Mr Morgan's ideal scheme of the development of marriage in his "Ancient Society." Mr Howitt, is the well-known Australian explorer. Both Fison and Howitt, brought up, so to speak, in Morgan's school, remain, in most respects, disciples of his. For my own part, I may express an opinion, which I fancy will be shared by many students, that while M'Lennan, Lubbock, and Morgan have contributed much to the solution of the obscure problem how primitive society was organised, they neither singly nor jointly have yet untied all the turns of this complex knot. They have all come by different methods to look to an original system of what has been called communal marriage. But as to the steps by which the transition was made to more developed institutions, there is great difference of theory. In some respects it seems to me that the new evidence in this book tends to modify the previous conclusions. ... On the other hand, Fison's ingenious arguments seem often too ingenious. He attempts to account for the widespread custom of avoiding the mother-in-law by the fact that she, being of the same class with her daughter, would be theoretically her own son-in-law's wife, which awkward combination is prevented by the two utterly avoiding one another. It is not easy to see, however, why this should cause the man to avoid his father-in-law also, which he does in Australia and all over the world. The great fundamental difficulty of the whole matter lies in the explanation how men, beginning with what Morgan calls the consanguine family, where marriage was unrestricted, moved into a more advanced stage. Morgan treats the change as an early but most important reform in society to restrict this state of things to more limited marriage, excluding the nearest blood-relatives: and Howitt takes much the same view. But the question is, how could man in a state of extreme rudeness be considerate and politic enough to become conscious of the evil and the remedy? We must ask for more perfect explanation before receiving such a theory as proved. No man knows a savage's mind better than Fison does, and he is so impressed with the difficulties savages would find in taking such a step, that he calls in supernatural aid to help them. ... Mr Fison will not, perhaps, gain many adherents in explaining savage institutions by ordinary natural processes as far as possible, and then, because he finds a problem too hard, bringing in a supernatural cause, which thus is degraded into a result of the enquirer's ignorance. But one cannot more strongly put the difficulty of the problem than by seeing that it has driven a writer so ingenious in devising natural explanations, to abandon the attempt. I have spoken at some length of this volume, regarding it as a new move in a discussion of early society which will lead us far before we have done with it, But it is abtruse and difficult in the extreme, and I hope to deal with it fully and with the necessary care and reservation at some future time, and would ask that the present remarks, made to call attention to it, may not be themselves criticised as a deliberate move in the controversy. [pp. 451-453] 

Tylor is, perhaps, referring to his paper, 'On a method of investigating the development of institutions; applied to laws of marriage and descent', Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol. 18 (1889) pp. 245-272. 


Howitt 6

Sale, Gippsland

August 23 1882

My dear Sir

I send you by "Tates parcel express" a packet containing some fire drills. The large one labelled "Broombni-talo-yucka" is that used by the Chepara tribe of the Queensland coast about the Tweed and Logan Rivers--not far from the New South Wales boundary. I am indebted for them to Mr James Gibson [illegible initials] of Stanmore Queensland [1] who has written to me on this subject as follows:--

"The Blackfellow places the stick in the ground with his knees firmly on it, having some dry grass beneath the centre. He there rests or twirls the [illegible] round stick in the other very rapidly between his hands when smoke very soon appears and then the grass ignites. The piece of wood are [sic] from the Grasstree stem, I must mention that I asked my friend to make fire so that I might see it done; but he tried several times as you will see from the sticks, but failed to bring fire. There was plenty of smoke but it did not ignite the grass. He said the wood was a little green and assured me that the blacks bring fire in this way very quickly when the wood is dry."

The smaller parcel contains three samples for which I am indebted to Mr E. Palmer of Parramatta near Sydney who obtained them when visiting his stations at the Cloncurry River lately. [2] They are [insert] as [end insert] used by the blacks of the Flinders River. The fire is produced by "drilling". I have referred the specimens of the flowers and foliage of the bushes to Baron v. Mueller who has given me the names which I attach.

No 1. Ngeen-jerry -- "Peabrush" -- Leobanca Aegypliacum Person

No 2. Thandora ---- Veulilago viminalis Horker

No 3. Thurkoo ---- Clerodendron floribundum R. Brown

Mr Palmer has not made any remarks as to the exact method of making fire. He mentions that one of the three is preferred but I regret that I have mislaid his note among my papers and cannot now place my hand on it. 

These are all the firedrills I have at present, I send them to prove to you that I am not unmindful of your wishes. Before long I hope to have more as I am expecting to receive visits from certain old men from various tribes. I have been making arrangements for this end for some time and I hope that the first of the series will arrive next month from New South Wales.

I have several of the humming or roaring instruments for you but I reserve them for the present. I am desirous of producing them at a meeting which the Blacks tell me they will certainly hold about the new year and nothing I could show them thereat would be of so much interest to them as these things. I may mention that one which I made and delivered by the old men of the Manerir tribe is, they told me the other day when I was in their country, on its travels up the New South Wales southern coast and will certainly be brought back by the men who are to attend the meeting I have mentioned. If this meeting comes off as I now hope it will I shall have much to see and hear and I shall probably obtain some more firedrills and "Bull roarers" for you. [3]

I hope that my last paper on Australian class systems duly reached you and was not without interest. [4] Since sending it I have thought that the sketch map might have been made clearer if I had not used Roman numerals for the reference [illegible]: If the map is printed may I trouble you to kindly alter these references so as to agree with the text; that is if you think that the difference between the references and the map and on the text are of moment. 

I have now in hand and almost completed a paper on "Some Australian Beliefs" which I shall take the liberty of sending to you for the Anthropological I feel that I may perhaps be trespassing upon your kindness in this but the kindness with which you have taken charge of former contributions [2 words illegible][5]

I remain my dear Sir

yours faithfully

A.W. Howitt


[1] James Gibson, probably James Gibson and here (1835-1916) Pastoralist and pioneer who from 1878 was based at a station at King's Plain but who had been in Gippsland in the 1850s (and may have known Howitt then, as Howitt was at that time a drover?). This fire stick set given by Gibson cannot be identified in the PRM collections (it has not been accessioned, either as coming from Howitt / Tylor or not)

[2] This appears to be Edward Palmer (?-1899) who wrote 'On plants used by the natives of North Queensland, Flinders and Mitchell Rivers, for food, medicine &c &c' read to the Royal Society of NSW 1 August 1883, and 'Notes on some Australian Tribes' London": Harrison and Sons 1884, etc, see here. He also wrote 'Early Days in North Queensland' Sydney: Angus and Robertson 1903. 

These firesticks are probably 1911.1.66-68 described in the accession register of the PRM as 'PROF. E.B. TYLOR, F.R.S. Linden, Wellington, Somerset. Jan. - 3 fire-drill sets of different woods, Mycoolon tribe, Lower Flinders R., N.W. Central Queensland.'

[3] A large number (7) 'bull-roarers', most tentatively or definitely linked to Howitt are in the Tylor donations to the Pitt Rivers Museum, they will not be matched unless in a future letter Howitt gives further information, see below.

[4] 'Notes on the Australian Class Systems', Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol. 12 (1883) pp. 496-512. 

[5] 'On some Australian beliefs', Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol 13 (1884) pp. 185-198.


Howitt 7

Sale, Victoria. Dec. 30. 1882

Dear Dr Tylor

I have received your note of Oct 25 with much pleasure. I have requested my sister to settle for any expense there may be in the 50 copies of my paper but as I have not heard from her that this has been done I will remind her again. I send you by this post another paper on "Some Australian beliefs" which I hope may not be without interest. Will you kindly present it to the Anthropological Institute. I have several other papers in hand on "Early migrations of Australian tribes", "The Kurnai ancestor", "Ceremonies of Initiation" "Gesture language" "Chiefs and Headmen" "Messengers and Message sticks" which I will venture to trouble you with if you do not mind. I think it is well to adopt the means of "Reporting progress" from time to time. If you will kindly order for me 50 copies of each paper I shall feel extremely obliged as I like to send papers to correspondents some of whom are thereby stimulated to more work.

I shall now send in a parcel (either by Post or by Parcels [illegible] Company - if I find the packet could go by post) two tunduns - one from Gippsland the tundun proper, the other from Queensland. For the latter I am indebted to Mr J. Gibson of Yatala Queensland who writes of it as follows:--

"The Bora ceremonies in the Chepara tribe were ordered to be held by the chief man of the tribe. The messenger whom he sent to summon the clans of the Chepara to the ceremonies are carried in addition to the message stick, the Bribbun or sacred humming instrument. He approaches the camp to which he is sent at sundown keeping concealed at a distance and makes a noise with the bribbun. The men go out and find him pretending to be asleep or in a sort of trance. The following morning they all go with their Bribbun man. When approaching the Bora ground, the Bribbun man goes a little ahead and [illegible s...] do the Bribbun. On hearing this all the men and women in the camp raise a great shout and all the men go out and meet him. At the termination of the Ceremonies of Initiation the Bribbun man comes and shews it to the youths and this is the only time they see it. He gives to each of them a small Bribbun called "Wabulkan" which is a sort of guarantee of their initiation and is supposed to have received small portion of the virtue which the large and principal one is supposed to possess. The Wabulkan is kept scrupulously concealed from the women." [1]

I have condensed Mr Gibson's statements but the above is the gist of them. It was Mr Gibson who sent the firedrill which I hope you have received before now. Other tunduns I will send by and bye when I have exhibited them to my blackfriends.

I shall also send you at the same time with the Bribbun and Tundun a firedrill as used by the Melbourne blacks (woi-worung). It is called Jeil-wurk and is made from the wood of the Hedycarya [illegible] I have carefully borne in mind your remarks when making observations on the method of fire raising with this drill. The old man who gave it to me could produce fire in about a minute. [2] With his help in the minute of the process when my hands became tired I produced fire in about a minute and a half. What is required is to press the drill downwards with sufficient force while rotating it. The old mans hands were hard and they were "sticky"--this latter quality I found out from experience when I had to shake hands in parting. I observed that in commencing to drill he always placed his thumbs in the drill so as to press it down before commencing to rotate it between his hands. Sometimes to increase the friction he held the drill slightly inclined--by which means more powder was ground from the side of the hole. This powder turns dark brown and falls down the stick at the edge of the rest with a little cone on the "stringy bark" which is placed to receive it. As soon as the drill smokes (or rather the ground dust round its point) the drilling is made more rapid, more smoke rises and there is a peculiar smell of its burning. The wood dust becomes ignited and falls down the notch onto the little cone of carbonised wood dust below. This takes fire and smoulders. A few minute shavings from the rest are cut off and laid on it and the whole carefully folded up in the "stringy bark" and gently blown into a flame. In this process everything used must be thoroughly dry. You will find four holes at one end of the rest. Three of these were used when the old man showed me the process--one by the way was already used. The fourth hole opposite the others was the one in which I made fire with his help. The solitary hole further up is one which I used the other day for experimenting. I found that although I could carbonise the drill point and the hole that I could not press down tight enough to complete the process. My hands were too soft and too smooth. I then widened [insert] the hole in [end insert] a cotton reel so as to admit the drill tightly--I used a small vial as a rest in which to hold the top end of the drill and I rotated it with a small bow--a stick and a piece of string. Doing this I could thus press the drill down with sufficient force. I obtained fire with ease and in less time I think than the old man did with his hands, for my drilling was continuous wile he had to stop every now and then to shift his hands upwards. If you can make your hands hard enough and adhesive enough not to slip down too quickly you can I am sure make fire some. But in any case you can produce it as I did the other day. I have made a new hole ready for drilling and I send a supply of "stringy bark" for use. I shall now look out for a Gippsland drill as soon as I can get hold of one of the old men. [3]

A correspondent of mine Mr Palmer who has several large stations in Queensland is busy in compiling an account of the Carpenteria tribes. He will deal with their tribal organization, customs, language and the plants used by them for food or medical purposes. I have promised to ask you whether it would be agreeable to you if he sent his work when completed to you for presentation to the Anthropological Institute. Will you kindly tell me and also the maximum number of pages of the transactions it should make. It will have a map attached. [4]

I have seen Wilhelmi [?] book years ago but have not been able to find it in the booksellers shops in Melbourne. i think it is in the Melbourne Library and it is one of the many works which I have in my list for examination. I have some recollection of having met Wilhelmi years ago

I am Dear Dr Tylor

yours faithfully AW Howitt


[1] The Queensland ceremonial object (known to Tylor as a 'bullroarer') is 1917.553.461, recorded as being bequeathed by Tylor after his death and described in the Pitt Rivers Museum accession book as 'bull-roarer, bribbun, swung at initiation ceremonies, Chepara tribe, south Queensland coast (south of Brisbane) (Figured in A.W. Howitt's "S. Austr." fig. 35). So the clear evidence that Howitt gave of the field collector, James Gibson was quickly lost from museum documentation, but has now been added. It is not clear which of the PRM objects is the Gippsland one referred to, it could be:

1911.32.10 PROF. E.B. TYLOR - Bullroarer, "large Tundun", Kurnai, Gippsland, Victoria

1911.32.11-12 PROF. E.B. TYLOR - 2 ditto ["bullroarers"], rukut Tundun, ib. ["Kurnai, Gippsland, Victoria"]

[2] The Melbourne firedrill is 1911.1.70 described as 'PROF. E.B. TYLOR, F.R.S. Linden, Wellington, Somerset. Jan. - fire drill set, Woiworung (Wiranjuri), Yarra R., Victoria, Australia.' in the accession book of the Pitt Rivers Museum. The wood is this wood.

[3] No Gippsland firedrill is recorded as having been given by Tylor to the Pitt Rivers Museum.

[4] This article was probably the one published as 'Notes on some Australian tribes' Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol. 13 (1884) pp. 276-347


Howitt 8

Sale Mch 13. 1883

My dear Sir

Mr Palmer of Parramatta N.S.W. writes to me that he has sent to you a paper which he has composed on some Australian tribes with which he has personal acquaintance. [1] When he wrote to me about it in the first instance I suggested that it might be acceptable to you and in going over his materials I found valuable coming as they do from one who has spent a lifetime among the blackfellows in different parts of N.S.W. and Queensland. Mr Palmer has two large stations in Northern Queensland, one on the Clemency River and the other on the Mitchell River. In that district the blacks are still in an almost completely wild condition--that is those who yet remain alive and as Mr Palmer has now made friends with the small tribe at his Mitchell River Cattle Station and has permitted them to come in and camp at the station under his protection there is every chance that he will be able to supply most valuable information as to that and observations of the "Gulf Country" which so far have been so much as I know undescribed by any white man. Mr Palmer goes up to his stations next month and I have posted [?] him up in every point I could think up I have even sent him your remarks about message sticks and I hope he will succeed in appending the information which is so much needed.

I trust that you will not think I have caused Mr Palmer to send you a "white Elephant" in recommending him to forward his paper to you.

By this time you will have received the second consignment of message sticks and firedrills. A third lot will go to you as soon as I receive a drill which another correspondent has promised me from Queensland. I also have been experimenting with English wood [?] and the nearest approach to success I have had has been the weeping willow. I shall continue my inquiries and let you know the results. A friend of mine who as a youth was in the habit of raising fire occasionally when camping out, by means of a drill of Grasstree says there is no knack except keeping the drill going continuously and perhaps adding a few species of dry sand to increase the friction. I have seen the Coopers Creek blacks on this and also add a pinch of charcoal dust.

I shall not cease from enquiry concerning the message sticks. I have been closing in for a long time and have written to some fifty correspondents--but as yet with no certain results. Unfortunately the Blacks in Gippsland do not nor did they use message sticks so that I am personally unable to add anything. All that has come here was to send a token of the messenger, e.g. a boomerang, waddy, throwing stick &c.

Your remarks about funeral offerings suggests that I may as well write to my correspondents on the subject. May I now say that any suggestions you feel inclined to make on the subject which require special investigation I shall not my act upon but I shall feel much obliged to you for making them. [?]

I have been lately working out the peculiar facts of the "Paramour" custom of the Coopers Creek tribes and it seems to me more than ever to point to a former condition of promiscuity. I cannot now enter into the subject but you will receive the evidenced facts in a paper which I have in hand on some Australian Group Relations. [2]

The quotations which you have so kindly made for me of the line mentioning the Tundun as used in the [illegible ?Dungsiac?] Mysteries is very interesting. I expect that we shall find traces of its use elsewhere in in ancient writings, Some of the ancient Chinese writers for instance. A suspect that this instrument is of extreme antiquity and is more likely to have been brought to Australia by the ancestors of the Blackfellows' than to have been independently invented by them.

I am my dear Sir

yours faithfully

A.W. Howitt


[1] This is probably Edward Palmer, 'Notes on some Australian Tribes' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute vol. 13 (1884) pp. 276-347

[2] The only paper I can find with a similar title by Howitt is 1907. 'Australian Group-Relationships' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 37, (Jul. - Dec., 1907), pp. 279-289


Howitt 9

Sale June 4, 1883

Dear Mr Tylor

On my return home two days ago I found your most kind letter of April 16th which has given me the very greatest pleasure. That which you so kindly say of my paper on the class system has been most encouraging to me. My heart is in the work in which I am engaged and I am most anxious of aiding in working out the many most interesting problems that it implies. My visit to Bega (in N.S.W.) will I hope enable me to explain much which has hitherto been obscure about the Initiation ceremonies; the Bora, Tore, Bunan, Kuruigal, Jerrieil whatever the name may be by which in different parts of the country they are known. I mentioned in a former letter that I had sent my messengers to gather together the tribes in the southern coast of N. South Wales to meet me at the Kuruigal or Bunan. About two months ago I received a return message that they were assembling at Bega and I hurriedly prepared to go there. I may mention that the Gippsland contingent who should have been there under my direction went up from the Snowy River mouth through the jungle country and had a week bad weather. [?] Their guide went near blind with ophthalmia and when out 55 miles from the meeting place they turned back. However I found about a hundred collected and we held the initiation ceremonie [sic]. I was most successful with those people and obtained a great deal of most curious information. All that I have said about Daramulun [1] in the last paper I sent was even more than confirmed and I saw the old wizards dancing round the magic fire, round the figure of Daramulun cut in relief out of the ground; saw them doing their magical tricks of bring quartz crystals out of themselves; saw the teeth knocked out on a cleared spot in front of a tree marked with a figure of Daramulun thus [drawing annotated 'this reminds one of the figures represented in Greys Western Australia &c'] and heard all the prohibitions made for the boys initiated "under pain of death." The ceremonie although abbreviated within the shortest limits took exactly 30 hours from the time we went from the camp with the boys until we returned to it with them again as "young men." I have obtained a full explanation of the whole ceremonie and I have carefully written down a detailed account while they have are fresh in my mind. In Collins New South Wales there are plates of the tooth knocking ceremonie practised at I think Port Jackson in his time. [2] These are all fully illustrated and explained by what I have just seen; but Collins did not see the purely "magical" part of the ceremonie and speaking from memory I think he was sent away in the evening and returned next morning. It is in he night that these were done at Bega. I shall before long write out a paper & send to you on "Australian Initiations" which will give you further particulars. [3]

I send you by this post registered as a parcel, a tundun--called by the Coast Murring Mudthi--it was made by one of the principal old men to replace mine which was accidentally destroyed when my messengers camp was burned. [4] Please note his own image of Daramulun on it. It was not formed to sound well and was cut to improve it and made worse. A large new one was then cut out of Chrnytru (Exocarpa cupressi...ia) which was approved of. I do not send this now because I may yet require it to gather the Wolgal and Woradjere people to either Gundagai or Yaro [?] for a Bora meeting. This I am thinking of but I cannot determine until the arrival here of the Wolgal head man who will probably act as my messenger. I think till I have got in the track of some important beliefs as to the Bullroarer--the Murring old men told me (1) the roaring of the Mudthi represents thunder (2) it is also the voice of Daramulun (3) thunder is the voice of Daramulun--as one of them put it "calling to the rain to fall and make everything on the ground green up fresh". Rev'd [insert] W. [end insert] Ridley heard imperfect accounts of Daramulun and of the Mudthi--which he calls the wand Dhurumbulum the sacred wand. [5] I suspect, and I shall bear this in mind if I get among the neighbours of the Woradjeri--that Ridley was only told the lawful that is the name which could be lawfully spoken of the Great Spirit. This is Baiame (or some form of it) over a great part of New South Wales. With the people I have just been among the secret name is Daramulun--but usually the Great Spirit is spoken of as Biamban i.e. the Master--one who gives orders, or who commands and controls. This is the name by which the women know of him just as in Maneroo the name they know is Pappang i.e. father, or among the Woiworung of the Yarra Mamanuk = our father. I think that next to a woman a missionary would be about the last person to be made acquainted with the secret rites of the tribes. The missionaries feel one way and the old men the other. I hope that I have not wearied you with all this.

If I can collect anything more for you please let me know

I am yours faithfully

A.W. Howitt

P.S. All that I told you about fire drills holds good as to the Coast Murring. he tried to get fire but the grasstree stalks were all damp and only produced smoke. They use a drill about 3 ft long. Where the rest was narrow (grass tree also) a piece of wood was fixed on each side to confine the drill. A pinch of charcoal dust was put in the drill hole. A grass tree stalk was selected which was had dark colored pith--not white pith. The man who drilled spit in his hands to make them hold well.

I shall send you also a tundun from the Adjardura tribe of York [sic] peninsula South Australia.


[1] Daramulun, Howitt spelt this Tharamulun in 'On some Australian Beliefs' in 1884, though he gives this version as an alternative [see page 192], he defines it as 'the Supreme Spirit'.

Martin Thomas in 'The Many Worlds of RH Mathews' (2012) has summarised this debate very succinctly and I feel that it is impossible to better his rapid, but thorough, explanation of the significance of Howitt's continuing discussion of the significance of Baiami / Baiamai for nineteenth century anthropologists (it may seem to the reader that from this page's transcriber the passage was not that succinct but they merely remove small digressions, pertinent to Thomas' story of the contrast between Howitt and Mathews accounts of Aboriginal people's religious belief systems):

'The origins of the High Gods debate lie with Charles Darwin ... Darwin's belief on the origins and development of religion were the point of interest here. Lang, when he replied to Hartland's critique, glossed them as follows: 'Mr Darwin held that by aid of his "high mental faculties" (and very high they needed to be) "man was first led to believe in unseen spiritual agencies, then in fetishism,... polytheism, and ultimately in monotheism." ... Lang claimed that despite their primitive stage of savagery, Aborigines in Victoria had already attained some notion of a higher being. It was here that Lang drew heavily from Howitt, who in 1884 had reported to the Anthropological Institute that there was in south-east Australia a figure regarded as a 'benevolent, or more frequently as a malevolent, being'. Howitt referred to him as the 'Great Spirit'. ... He told of a period when the 'Great Spirit' lived on Earth and established the tribal laws ... Subsequently he died and 'went up to the sky, where he has since lived with the ghosts'. His name, always uttered in a hushed tone, was 'Daramulun', although he was known by other forms of address. ... Howitt, who took umbrage at Lang's use of his work, did not directly equate the 'Great Spirit' of Victoria with Baiami, who was already known to British anthropology from the reports of Ridley and other writers. Both Lang and Hartland at times equated or conflated ['Daramulun'] and Baiami during the High Gods debate. The argument that Baiami and 'Daramulun' were godlike denizens of the sky was for Lang a critical point. From it he inferred that they were part of a religious system of some sophistication and that the society that honoured them in story and ceremony was morally grounded. ... To Hartland, these claims defied credibility. ... Hartland's attack on Lang was a continuation of a disagreement already some years old. In late 1891 Tylor had given a presidential address to the Anthropological Institute in London titled 'On the limits of Savage Religions.' The paper dealt not only with Baiami but with other 'Great Spirit' entities, reports of which were coming in from indigenous societies in many parts of the world. Tylor urged his fellow anthropologists to treat these reports with the greatest caution.  ... he declared it impossible that idolatrous savages could conceive the possibility of a singular and omniscient creator. 'Gods' like Baiami, he argued, were post-contact inventions, 'attained ... under Christian missionary influence'. Since Tylor, like most British anthropologists of the period, could only conceive of these alleged transformations in the culture of 'lower races' as evidence of their corruption, they were of limited scientific value. ... Tylor's audience would have recognised immediately that this was an attack on Andrew Lang ... In plunging into this debate, Hartland aligned himself with Tylor, and he adopted his argument concerning missionary influence to challenge the authenticity of Howitt's 'gods'. ... It was [R.H.] Mathews' first article on initiation ... that gave Hartland his most useful ammunition.' [Thomas, 2012: 281-284]

This debate continued, Howitt continued to feed information about Baiami to Tylor (see letters subsequent to this) and Mathews too continued to feed data to the world's 'armchair' anthropologists. 

[2] Probably David Collins (1756-1810), 'An Account of the English colony of New South Wales: with remarks on the dispositions, customs, manners etc. of the native inhabitants of that country to which are added some particulars of New Zealand ... 1798 [volume 1], 1802 [volume 2]

[3] 1884. 'On some Australian ceremonies of initiation' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 13, (1884), pp. 432-459

[4] This is 1917.53.464 described in the accession book as 'COLLECTION of the late Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, D.C.L., F.R.S. Presented by LADY TYLOR, 1917 - Bull-roarer, mudthi, "voice of Daramulun, YUIN tribe, coast of NEW SOUTH WALES, c. 36˚S. (Howitt, fig. 29).

[5] William Ridley (1819-1878) Presbyterian minister, he published Gurre Kamilaroi or Kamilaroi Sayings in 1856.


Howitt 10

Sale June 25 1883

Dear Dr Tylor

Your letter of the 13th May reminds me that I have not yet sent the tundun which I promised in my last letter. The reason is that I have been waiting until I could get them carefully drawn in order that I may have their verisimilitudes for reference. I shall now send the following within the next two days in one or parcels [sic] as I find they may require for travel purposes

(1) Murring Mudthi (bullroarer) used at Mileatom [?] and found to be unsatisfactory. [insert] The notch at the end represents the gap where the tooth has been knocked out [end insert][1]

(2) Dieri -- Yuntha (Bullroarer) This was used at the Dieri ceremonies and also by one at those [sic] of the Coast Murring [2]

(3) Chepara Message stick I am not able to get an explanation of the marks. It seems probable that the existing blackfellows of the Chepara tribe (on the coast south of Brisbane) have forgotten the meaning. Mr Gibson to whom I am indebted for this stick tells me that his informant states that his father used to make these sticks but that he only knew of the meaning of the marks. [3]

(4) Dieri message token of Emu feathers. The messenger carries this and delivers the message by word of mouth [4]

(5) Narrinyeri message stick No explanation can be given of the marks. Narringyeri tribe is at the Murray River mouth [5]

(6) Woi-worung message stick. the marks are said not to have had any meaning beyond being connected in the messengers mind with his message. Woi-worung was the name of the tribe living above Melbourne.

(7) Message stick used on the Diamantina River [insert] Queensland [end insert] So far as I can learn the marks are the enumeration of men who are invited to attend the details being given by the messenger.

(8) Gournd [insert] i [end insert] tch mara message stick. I am told that this stick was sent with the messenger who conveyed the message by word of mouth

(9) Dieri net. This net "yamma" was delivered to the Pinya (armed party) when any person was doomed to death by the Great Council of the Dieri tribe and the offender having been killed, this net was laid upon him as a sign to all concerned. Let me mention here that this Great Council was composed to the principal men of the Dieri tribe. The Heads of Murdus (Totems) Warriors, Orators, Wizards and held its meetings in secret. This great Council was supreme and different from the General Council which consisted of all the initiated men of the tribe. [6]

10. Aaja-dura - Bullroarer. I cannot at present turn up the letter in which my correspondents gave me the name of this example. It was sent to me by the Headman of this tribe which inhabits Yorke Peninsula S.A. in return for a bullroarer which I sent to him. The old man showed mine to my correspondent with much mystery after sending all the women away from the place [6]

These are all the contributions which I can send you this time but more will follow as soon as I can get them drawn -- I do this because I cannot yet tell whether in the work for which I am gathering materials I may or may not require illustrations of these things. This will not however in any way affect any use to which you may decide to put them. They are yours to do with as you like. If there are any other blackfellows implements which you want I shall be delighted to try and obtain them for you. 

I take this opportunity of suggesting to you a difficulty which I have met with in the hope that you will kindly favor me with your opinion which I am most anxious of obtaining. I can illustrate the difficulty best by an illustration. [sic] I have observed in one of the adverse reviews on K & K that the term "Murri" has been used as being synonymous with "Australian Blackfellow". This is wrong, for Murri as used for instance by Ridley only applies to a Kamilaroi Blackfellow and it seems to me this is as just as wrong to speak of a Gippsland Blackfellow Kurnia or one of Melbourne (Kulin) or one of Monigal (Yuno) [?] or one of Coopers Creek (Kurna) as an "Australian Murri" as to speak of a native of Cornwall as being a "British Scot". The question though is "What name are we to apply to the Australian Aborigine?' There is no [insert] one [end insert] aboriginal word which all over Australia is equally our "Blackfellow"--each tribe has a name = "man" which is applied to its only [insert] own [end insert] males exclusively. I confess I see no other word at present than Blackfellow unless all Ethnologists were to agree upon the use of some one aboriginal name for man in a sense in which the aborigines themselves never used it. A similar difficulty arises as to the "Bull roarer"--each tribe has its own name, so it is with the Initiation Ceremonies themselves--the Kamilaroi word "Bora" is generally used among whites, but it seems to me quite wrong to speak of the "Bora of the Gippslanders", or of the "Bora of the Murring" when the former is "Jera-eil" and the latter is "Bunan" On this I should really feel grateful if you would favor me with your opinion. I feel that some uniformity of language is necessary but the difficulty is making choice of some term generally applicable.

I hope to send you before long another communication and as I observe that you are gathering together the scattered threads of information I shall endeavour to furnish other memoirs upon Australian subjects as I shall be glad that all I can say should be in your hands.

I am much gratified that you have found Mr Palmers contribution of value. I feel that it seemed long and that it might have been advantageously condensed but I did not see my way to do it when Mr Palmer submitted it to me. A correspondent of mine Mr Cameron who lives in Riverina has been for some time gathering much valuable material as to the tribes of the Murray, Murrembidgee and Lachlan Rivers and I think he could write a most interesting communication for the Ethnological Institute if it would be agreeable to you.

Mr Cameron has a thorough knowledge of the subject and can speak with authority as to Aboriginal belief and customs. If you think well of this please let me know how many pages of printed material his memoir should make. [7]

I find I have omitted to include in my lists of implements sent by post No 11 the tooth knocking-out steel of the Murring the mallet used is like this [drawing] perhaps mallet is hardly the proper word. [6]

I am dear Dr Tylor

yours faithfully

AW Howitt


[1] This is perhaps 1917.53.464 described as 'COLLECTION of the late Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, D.C.L., F.R.S. Presented by LADY TYLOR, 1917 - Bull-roarer, mudthi, "voice of Daramulun, YUIN tribe, coast of NEW SOUTH WALES, c. 36˚S. (Howitt, fig. 29)'.

[2] This is 1917.53.463 described in the accession book as 'COLLECTION of the late Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, D.C.L., F.R.S. Presented by LADY TYLOR, 1917 - Bull-roarer, Yuntha, used in the Wilyaru ceremony, DIERI tribe, E. of L. EYRE.  (Howitt, fig. 29)'.

[3] This is probably 1989.46.1, found unentered in the museum accession books in 1989 or 1917.53.461 described as 'COLLECTION of the late Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, D.C.L., F.R.S. Presented by LADY TYLOR, 1917 - Bull-roarer, bribbun, swung at initiation ceremonies, CHEPARA tribe, S. QUEENSLAND COAST (S. of Brisbane). (Fig. by A.W. Howitt "S. Austr.", fig. 35)'. 

[4] This is probably 1989.46.11, found unentered in the museum accession books in 1989. it is described as 'Message token of feathers bound with human hair, made by 'Old Man Plongreen' and carried by a messenger to collect the tribe for ceremonial purposes.  It may not be shown to women or children.'

[5] Some of these message sticks may be 1989.46.2, 1989.46.3, 1989.46.5, 1989.46.6, found unentered in the museum accession books in 1989.

[6] These objects cannot be matched to objects in the PRM collections donated by Tylor. It is not clear whether they were not received, or subsequently lost, or exchanged or kept as part of a private collection.

[7] This is probably A.L.P. Cameron, 'Notes on some tribes of New South Wales' Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol. 14, (1885) pp. 344-370.


Howitt 11

Sale Aug 8 1883

My dear Sir

I now send by this mail a further collection of message sticks; or rather three message sticks and one message token. The particulars are as follows:

(1) Message token used in the Mitchell River tribe mentioned by Mr Palmer and was made by the old man Plongreen whom he mentions in his paper. This token is carried by a messenger who collects the tribe for ceremonial purpose. The token may not be shown to women or children. [1]

(2) Message stick sent to me by Mr JF [insert] J.C. [end insert] Muirhead--used by the Wakelbura tribe. All message sticks are painted. This stick was sent by an Oboo of the Wakelbura to one of the Yangebura tribe (at Blackall). The wood is this of Bedyea tree--which belongs to the Wooltheroo class--of which Oboo is a subclass. The message refers to killing game found in a fenced paddock at Mr Wallaces station near Clermont. The game is Emu and Wallaby which are both of the Wooltheroo class and therefore claimed by Oboo and Wongoo. The messenger delivers a verbal message. The marks are according to Mr Muirhead as follows: [2 drawings, the first marked 'Wallaby' and 'Emu' besides the stripes of decoration, the 2nd drawing is annotated 'This indicates the wire fence at Kilcommon Station'] [2]

(3) Message stick sent by a Flinders River blackfellow to another at the Mitchell River to say his wife was dead. From Mr Palmer. [3]

[4] A friendly reminder from a Mycoolon Blackfellow to a Myappi Blackfellow, carried by Mr Palmer [4]

I am now preparing a memoir on Australian Initiation Ceremonies which i hope to forward to you for the Anthropological Institute at the end of the month.

I have not gathered much new matter lately but I am now about to make a fresh start and hope to have some success. The Government have given me some aid in my work. The Solicitor General has sanctioned the use in my work of the Departmental Packed envelope and has also authorized the printing of such circulars as I may require. I hope that my several endeavors to extract information from listless correspondents may be more f...mate than past endeavors

I have not done anything with Mr Camerons manuscript on the Riverina tribes pending your reply.

I am my dear Sir

yours faithfully

A.W. Howitt


[1] Edward Palmer 'Notes on some Australian tribes' Journal of the Anthropological Institute vol. 13, (1884) pp. 276-347. 'Much of the information which I am now going to note as to their beliefs and superstitions I obtained from an intelligent old aborigine, seemingly of about sixty years of age. He could not speak English, and his information was obtained by the interpretation of several black boys who spoke English, and who checked each other's accuracy. I am satisfied that his statements are perfectly aboriginal in everything, without any ideas derived from whites. His name is Plungreen, which signifies "swift footed," or "fast runner," having been in his younger days chased by the blacks in the Leichhardt a great distance, without being caught. He had only four toes on each foot, having cut off each small toe himself, as it hindered him in running by catching in the grass. He was a tall, straight, wiry-looking old man, and a truthful and faithful aborigine of the Mycoolon tribe.' [Palmer, 1884: 290] This object is 1989.46.11

[2] James C. Muirhead. Note that there is correspondence between Muirhead and Howitt at AIATSIS Howitt papers. I can find nothing else about him. Wallace's station refers to Donald Smith Wallace (1844-1900), and his station (Kilcommon?) near Clermont. He represented Clermont in the Queensland Legislative Assembly from 1883-1888. This object is 1989.46.4

[3] This object is 1989.46.8

[4] This object is 1989.46.7


Howitt 12

Sale Oct 22 1883

My dear Sir

I have just received a letter from Mr Fison and and [sic] there is in it a reference to a paper which we have worked at conjointly, drawing some comparisons between the social and local organisation the Attic and Australian tribes. [1] He tells me that before publishing this, as we had proposed to do if possible in one of the English magazines, he should much wish to submit it for your criticism. As the mail leaves tomorrow I avail myself of the opportunity of writing to you to mention this and also to say that as he so much desires that you should see it before publication I have requested my sister in whose hand the manuscript is to send it on to you. I should not have ventured to trespass so much upon your kindness and on your valuable time were it not that Mr Fison so much wishes it. I feel already that I have given you far more trouble in the matter of papers than I am justified in doing, and when I reflect upon the manner in which your patience must be tried in the decyphering [sic] of my handwriting [2] my mind misgives me about inflicting so much upon you, in the reading of papers for instance. If you find that I am troublesome in these matters I beg that you will not hesitate in saying that I should hold my hand.

PRM0000266961917.53.150 Ground stone axe from Australia, Tylor bequest.


I regret to say that I have as yet failed to procure the information you want as to the message sticks. I have written to my most promising correspondents in the subject but without result so far. I am almost at my wit's end to know what move to make next. Unfortunately the tribes to which I have access seem to be quite ignorant of anything but what I may call a "token" which is carried by the messenger. However I may yet learn -- for I never give over trying when I wish for anything until I succeed or find that success is impossible.

I have two or three stone tomahawks used by the Kurnai formerly and I can procure a complete set of their weapons and implements if these will be acceptable to you I shall have much pleasure in sending them. [3]

I have now got Mr Camerons paper on the tribes of the Lower [insert] parts of the [end insert] Murrumbidji, Lachlan, Murray, and Darling Rivers in hand. I have considered and drawn his material into shape and I think that if you like to present the paper to the Institution it will give some interesting facts. [4]

Thanking you very much for all the trouble which you have and are taking about my papers I am my dear Sir 

Yours faithfully

A.W. Howitt

E.B. Tylor Esq F.R.S.

Linden, Wellington

Somerset England


[1] This seems to be a reference to A.W. Howitt and Lorimer Fison. 1885. 'On the Deme and the Horde' Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. 14, (1885), pp. 141-169

[2] Howitt is right in this, his handwriting is very difficult to read, partly because he often does not form all the word.

[3] There is no record of any stone axes from the Kurnai in the PRM, however, there are 2 ground stone axes without provenance which were given by Tylor to the collection in 1911 and after his death, see 1911.32.70 and 1917.53.150 which just might be these objects (though they just as likely are not). A photograph of one of these possible matching objects [1917.53.150] is given below just in case they are recognisably possible matches from appearance.

[4] I think this paper, read to the Institute by Tylor must have been, 'Notes on some tribes of New South Wales' by A.L.P. Cameron, The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 14, (1885), pp. 344-370


Howitt 13

Sale February 2 1884

My dear Sir

I am much pleased to have received your very kind letters of Dec 15th and I thank you most sincerely for all the trouble which you have taken about my paper. I am much gratified that my word is approved by the Institution and that I have the honour of appearing before it under your auspices. [1] I think I mentioned in a former letter that I am expecting an Initiation Ceremony to be held by the Gippsland Kurnai. This has now come off and I was present during the whole time. In fact I camped with them for five [insert] six [end insert] days and have seen more of their daily life than I ever saw before. I have been near black camp life for years [?] but I never was in fact a member of one for a week at a time till now. I shall not trouble you with my news in this head but what I want to do is to note a few points concerning the Initiation itself which will I think be of interest. [2]

(1) The ceremonies are called Jeraeil from Jerung a hand or bough The women participate in the commencement and end of the ceremonies The central portion is the time which they are carefully excluded.

(2) It is the local organisation which initiates the youths i.e. the men who have the charge of only one [?] youth are from the part of the district where his maternal grandfather lived i.e. from whence his mother came, he belonging to the local group by which his father belonged.

(3) The secret ceremony called by the Kurnai "shewing the grandfather" is the exhibition of the Tundun to the youths and at this time they are duly instructed in the local knowledge of the tribe

Death is the penalty in time past for unlawful revelation of these secrets. The old men refused to admit me to them until I fully satisfied them that I had already been initiated elsewhere. There are two Tunduns (a) a large one about about 9 inches long and 3 wide [Drawing] this is called the man or the grandfather -- (b) a small one -- such as the sample I sent you -- this is called the woman Tundun. The youths are taught as follows by the old men immediately that the tundun has been exhibited in what is rather an impressive Ceremony. -- There is a great being above the sky whose only name is Mungan-ngaura, i.e. "Father ours". Long ago he lived in the earth and taught the Kurnai all they knew, to make canoes, to form their weapons &c. He had a son named Tundun who was married and he This Tundun was the ancestor (grandfather = weintwin) of the Kurnai and it was he who conducted the ceremonies of initiation and made the instruments which bear the name of himself and of his wife. Some tribal traitor revealed this to the women and Mungan-ngaur took a fearful vengeance. He sent fire which filled the space between earth & sky (Aurora Australis) and the people were so alarmed that they speared each other, others burned with birds, beasts fishes &c and a great flood from the sea drowned the remainder. Turndun and his wife became porpoises other men, the seal, the sea salmon, the conger eel, the Eaglehawk &c &c. This is briefly that which I heard told to the novices. Beside others they are instructed during the whole ceremonies by the old men and their guardians. They are enjoined to abandon the company and ways of children; to preserve the gravity of manhood, to obey the words of the old men, not to interfere with the women of other men or the unmarried women, to share all the game they procure with others &c &c. In fact much as I have described the injunctions given to the Murning youths.

The food prohibitions relate to all female animals except the [illegible] & the porcupine (Echidna hystrix) [3] and to the Blackduck (the guardian of the boy is called Bulerwang = black duck) 

The ceremonies themselves uniquely are typical of the severance of the authority of the mother over his son and of the reception of the youth among the men. The fundamental principle lying at the root of the Jeraeil are those under the Kurrigal but the details are all different. The former has but few of the remarkable scenic effects of the latter and none whatever of its "magic", except the awakening of the boys from a supposed trance or sleep the morning of the initiation by the "tribal Doctor".

I have a number of the Tundun which I brought away with me and which I will send to you shortly. I took with me two old men from the central part of Victoria and I hope through them to be able to arrange other Initiations elsewhere. I have also made the first move towards rousing up the Warajeri tribe of the Murrumbidjee [sic] but whether I shall succeed or not I do not yet know.

Without entering into other details which would lead me too far I shall mention that during the whole time there was no quarrel and no ill word, and I was pleased to have so good an opportunity in observing narrowly the workings of the rule under which the game caught is divided among the people present. One curious ceremony was gone through expressly to prevent the boys becoming "greedy so they would eat up all the food they procured instead of dividing it". This was carefully done for the reason that they the boys had been much among whites and might have lost the proper feeling of their fathers!!

I have a very interesting account of some New South Wales tribes now in hand from Mr Cameron who has asked me to present it to you for the Institution. I think so well of it I feel sure that I may venture to do so without writing to learn your consent. [4]

I have lately been enabled to identify the Mt Gambier class name Kroki and Kumiti with the Darling River classes Makwara and Kilpara. A few more links will connect the whole chain from Bass Straits to Torres Straits. I am now making strenuous endeavours to work through correspondents in the Western half of the continent.

I await with some little trepidation your verdict on the Deme and the Horde for I there feel myself on ground whose security I cannot feel confidence in.

With many thanks for your continued kindness

I am dear Sir

yours faithfully

AW Howitt


[1] Presumably this is reference to the future Anthropological Institute meeting at which Tylor would read Fison and Howitt's paper, 'On the Deme and the Horde' (10 June 1884). It was later published in Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. 14, (1885), pp. 141-169

[2] For further information see 'The Jeraeil, or Initiation Ceremonies of the Kurnai Tribe' The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 14, (1885), pp. 301-325

[3] The short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

[4] 'Notes on some tribes of New South Wales' by A.L.P. Cameron, The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 14, (1885), pp. 344-370


Howitt 14

E.B. Tylor Esq F.R.S.

Museum House


Sale, April 14 1884

My dear Sir

By this post I send you in a separate packet the samples of the Turndun which were used at the late Jera-eil [1] here. The large one is the "Tundun" also called the "Weintwin" (paternal grandfather--fathers-father)--or sometimes "Muk-Brogan" (eminent companion). [2] The lesser one is the "Wrukuk-tundun (woman-tundun)--i.e. the "wife of Tundun". [3] I think I mentioned that Tundun--the "grandfather" of the Kurnai is said to be the son of "Mungun-ngaura" (our father)--by which the ceremonie (Jera-eil) were first initiated. The smaller Tundun is tied on to a stick about 24" long. In sounding it--it is first waved backwards and forward in front two or three times to bring it into a "swing"--then when it reaches the hand and arm reach their furthest extent to the right--the right hand being then say about the [illegible] height of the elbow--a quick turn is given with the tundun and it is then rapidly brought back in its course something after the fashion of cracking a whip. If this is done rapidly and effectively the "wrukuk tundun" will produce a "screech" which I have distinctly heard at a distance of 2000 paces. I fear that my description will seem very confused. Perhaps this diagram may serve to explain the path of the turndun, the operator standing at X [Drawing] a to b the distance through which the tun dun is moved two or three times to bring it into full swing; at (b) the "tune" is made to increase the momentum and at (c) it is brought sharply back -- the screeching sound is produced in passing from (c) to (d). ----

These tundun should have been made of cherry wood (Encarpus cupressiformi [?]) but the Kurnai could not find any handy and therefore used Ti tree (melaleuca) [4] explaining that it was too light a wood to make much noise. The "muk brogan" is swung round at the end of a cord without a handle.

I also send you a "Gule-wil"--that is to say one of the things with which the Winimua blacks seek to bewitch an enemy. This should have been made of Casuarina [5] to be properly ""--It is made of Ti tree which was handier and which can be used in the place of better. The large Gulewill bears on it the effigy of the intended victim, and of one of the deadly snakes which is supposed to add to its power. [6] In using it something belonging to the victim is procured--anything he has used, or part of is food, or even his spittle carefully packed up and smeared over the gulewil. Together with this there is placed some human fat. The whole is then tied up tightly in a piece of skin (old possum say for instance) or a piece of the victims clothes, or in fact anything which can be tightly rolled up and tied fast to keep the magic in. The bundle is then tied on the end of a throwing stick and smeared with raddle and fat and then placed in front of a fire to roast, my informant, the old man from whom I obtained the Gunewil told me that the best place in which to place such a thing is the kitchen dunny of some Station where cooking is always going on. The constant steady heat he said would be sure to catch the person intended. He said that when a person is thus "caught" his first symptom is that he feels as if he were in a fire, and that he then begins to dream. Finally he dreams of the "totem" of the person who has caught him and then his friends try and find out who that person is, and either get the gulewil from him, or if the man dies take revenge. I can feel no doubt from all my informants told me that this "feeling as if on a fire" and "the dreaming" --points to fever and delirium. It seems from all I have learned at this Wimmera River tribe (Wotjo-balluk i.e. men-tribe) that most of the deaths were believed to be through this gulewil or by the taking of the Kidney fat by wizards. The word Gulewil means "savage" as where a man says "Ngua / that one  nge / is delk / good quick gal? / dog -- the answer may be 'Gulewil" / savage ---- A person who is in a rage is said to be "glue-wirchup" i.e. "savage or angry or vexed--belly". An angry woman is called "glue-worchup-guruk" when guru or guru is the feminine affix also meaning "blood". Gulia means anger, temper, sulkiness, and it may possibly have some connection through it [illegible] with the word gull which is "man" i.e. male blackfellow. In other parts of Victoria the word appears as Kuli or Kulin.

I have now completed a most interesting account of the Wotjoballuk tribe, but I have succeeded in identifying their classnames Krokitch and Gamutch with the Darling River classes Kulpara and Mukwara respectively. My informant told me that being at the Wimmera Krokitch he was Kulpara when he went to the Murray River (above the Darling Riv Junction). The classes and those of this tribe are clearly the same as the Mt Gambier Kroki and Kumite. I shall have some further particulars to communicate in a paper which I am preparing on "Australian totems" for presentation to the Anthropological Institute, if you will kindly take charge of it. [7] To follow this I have a paper drafted on "Some early migration of some Australian tribes." [8] The paper which I mentioned that Mr Cameron had placed in my hands for transmission to you on the tribes of the South New South Wales, I shall also immediately complete and send to you for your consideration. Mr Cameron has requested me to ask, in the event of its being printed, that 100 copies may be forwarded to him. May I trouble you in that case to cause them to be sent to my sister who will receive them and meet any pecuniary matter for me. In a letter which I had lately from Mr Palmer he asked me when I wrote to you to ask that 100 copies of his paper might be sent to him. He is not sure whether he did or did not mention this in writing to you. In any case I will take charge of them for him if you like. I hope before long to have some message sticks to send to you. I am at work through correspondents and have hope of learning something conclusive. And it is heartbreaking work having to do with correspondents who require as do most of mine to be constantly galvanised into movement.

I remain my dear Sir

yours faithfully

A.W. Howitt


[1] initiation ceremony described in Letters 12-13

[2] Probably 1911.32.10, described in the accession book as 'PROF. E. B. TYLOR - Bullroarer, "large Tundun", Kurnai, Gippsland, Victoria.'

[3] This could be either 1911.32.11 or 1911.32.12 described as 'PROF. E. B. TYLOR - 2 ditto ["bullroarer"], rukut Tundun, ib. ["Kurnai, Gippsland, Victoria"].'

[4] Melaleuca alternifolia, ti or tea tree. 

[5] Casuarina.

[6] This object could be any one of 6 possible objects in the Pitt Rivers Museum's collections: 1917.53.568-572- Described in the accession book as 'COLLECTION of the late Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, D.C.L., F.R.S. Presented by LADY TYLOR, 1917 - 6 Guliwil, pieces of hard wood tapering towards the two ends, the largest of them engraved on both surfaces.  These were magically identified with some enemy and were then roasted to cause his death. WOTJOBALUK tribe, CENT. VICTORIA. Collected by A. W. Howitt (v. Howitt "S. Australia", fig. 21)' and in a detailed card filed under the amulet card catalogue as 'Amulets A Signatures B Sym(pathetic) Magic C Div(ination) and Witchcraft - B Sympathetic Magic - B.5 Black Magic - Figure Symbols (cords &c) - Description: Slender piece of hardwood tapering to a point at both ends. No markings visible. Such objects were magically identified with some enemy and were then roasted to cause his death. Length 11.9 cm. People: Wotjobaluk tribe. Locality: Cent. Victoria, Australia. Native Name: Guliwil. Collected By: A.W. Howitt. How Acquired: Pres. by Lady Tylor, 1917. (from E.B. Tylor coll.). References: A.W. Howitt, "Native Tribes of S.E. Australia", pp. 363 - 365, fig. 21, Nos 1 & 2 on top line. [Written on reverse of card] NC GC Rt shelf.'

NB only 5 are currently accessioned for unknown reasons.

[7] Howitt does not appear to have submitted a paper about totems (specifically) to the Anthropological Institute. 

[8] Possibly Howitt 1886. 'On the Migrations of the Kurnai Ancestors' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 15, (1886), pp. 409-422

See here for Part 2 of Howitt letters to Tylor (letter 15 onwards)

Transcribed by AP January-February 2013, November 2013.


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