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Title: Sexual Life of Primitive People
Author: Fehlinger, Hans
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A Primer on Courtship, Marriage and Parenthood.
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Translated by S. Herbert, M.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.
Author of "An Introduction to the Physiology and
Psychology of Sex," "Fundamentals in Sexual Ethics," etc.
Mrs. S. Herbert,
Author of "Sex Lore."

A. & C. Black, Ltd.
4, 5 & 6 Soho Square, London, W. 1


To most lay people the established order of sex relationships and
marriage seems something so self-evident and stable that they cannot
conceive the possibility of a variation in the established order. Yet
here, as in all things, the law of evolution applies. Our sexual system
is the outcome of a long continuous series of changes beginning with the
very dawn of human history. To understand the modern sex problem rightly
it is essential to know its origin and gradual development.

Most of the material about the sex life of primitive people is
inaccessible to the ordinary reader, being hidden away in learned
treatises and ponderous scientific works. The translators are,
therefore, glad to have found in Fehlinger's book a short comprehensive
outline of the subject, which may serve as a convenient introduction.

S. H.
F. H.

_July, 1921_.


CHAPTER                                          PAGE


 III. COURTSHIP CUSTOMS                            34

  IV. MARRIAGE                                     46

   V. BIRTH AND FETICIDE                           76



VIII. MATURITY AND DECLINE                        119

  IX. BIBLIOGRAPHY                                128




In cold and temperate climates, it is necessary to clothe the body as a
protection against cold. In hot parts of the world, the need for
protection against the effects of the weather by means of clothing
disappears, and therefore in those regions primitive people go about
naked. It is only when they come under the influence of foreign
civilisation that they put on clothing. It is erroneous to assume that
clothing came into use because of an inborn sexual modesty. In
Australia, in the Indonesian and Melanesian islands, in tropical Africa,
and in South America, there are still many peoples that go about naked.
It is true that many of them cover their sex organs; but the
contrivances used for this purpose are not in reality intended to hide
the sex region, though to our mind they seem to do so.

Primitive people do not cover their bodies out of modesty; "the
sinfulness of nakedness" is unknown to them. Karl von den Steinen (pp.
190, 191) says that the naked Indian tribes of the Xingu region of
Brazil know no secret parts of the body. "They joke about these parts in
words and pictures quite unabashed, so that it would be foolish to call
them indecent. They are envious of our clothing, as of some precious
finery; they put it on and wear it in our presence with a complete
disregard of the simplest rules of our own society, and in complete
ignorance of its purpose. This proves that they still possess the
pristine guilelessness of Adam and Eve in Eden. Some of them celebrate
the advent of puberty in members of both sexes by noisy festivals, when
the 'private parts' come in for a good deal of general attention. If a
man wishes to inform a stranger that he is a father, or a woman that she
is a mother, they gravely denote the fact by touching the organs from
which life springs, in a most spontaneous and natural manner. It is,
therefore, not possible to understand these people properly unless we
put aside our conception of 'clothing,' and take them and their manners
in their own natural way."

The absence of sexual modesty in our sense also struck von Steinen when
questions about words arose. If he asked about a word which to our minds
might give cause for shame, the reply was given without hesitation or
any semblance of shame. Nevertheless, conversations about sexual
subjects gave the Indians, men and women, decided pleasure; but their
merry laughter was "neither impudent, nor did it give the impression of
hiding an inward embarrassment. It had, however, a slightly erotic tone,
and resembled the laughter aroused by the jokes in our own
spinning-rooms, by games of forfeits, and by other harmless jokes
exchanged in intercourse between the sexes, although the occasions and
accompanying circumstances must be so very different among truly
primitive people."

Naked savages are, however, not devoid of sexual modesty. It shows
itself immediately when any remark addressed to them can be construed as
an invitation to sexual intercourse, or when coarse jokes are made about
sexual subjects. This is clearly shown in an account by Koch-Grünberg
(I., p. 307). His European companion wanted to perform a kind of stomach
dance before some savage Indians of the Upper Rio Negro, such as is
danced in places of ill repute in Brazilian towns. The very indecent
movements of the dancer caused the women and girls to retire shyly. The
European in his attempt to "entertain" the company failed completely.
Yet one can converse quietly with these Indians on all sexual subjects
so long as they are natural; it is only obscenity that shocks them.

According to Eylmann, the Australians, at least the men, show no modesty
in sex matters, though they are by no means devoid of it in other
respects. Thus, _e.g._, they are ashamed of any mutilation of their
bodies. Young men do not cover their sex organs, but the old ones do
so, because they seem to be aware that this part of the body, of which
they were once so proud, bears signs of old age. The women also rarely
make use of an apron, yet they show clearly marked sexual modesty. A
woman is always very careful not to expose the external sex organs when
she sits or lies down in the presence of men. The greatest decency is
observed during the time of menstruation.

In Indonesia the feeling of modesty among those tribes that are in
constant contact with Europeans is essentially different from that of
the tribes less under foreign influence. Thus Nieuwenhuis (I., pp. 133,
134) mentions, for instance, the Bahaus and Kenyas of Central Borneo. Of
these the latter are only slightly influenced by the Mohammedan Malays,
the former, however, relatively much more so. Although members of both
tribes bathe completely naked, yet the Bahaus dress immediately after
the bath, whilst the Kenyas go naked to and from the bath. The Kenya
women also go naked to the spring to bring water and to bathe their
children. Whilst getting the boats through the rapids the Kenya men take
off their loin-cloths, but the Bahau men never do this. When
Nieuwenhuis' expedition stayed some time among the Kenyas, it was
noticed that the people got out of the habit of going about naked at
times. This was only because the Malays and Bahaus belonging to the
expedition had told the Kenyas that the white people objected to the
naked appearance of the natives (which was not correct). Nieuwenhuis
adds: "It can thus be seen what a great _rôle_ acquired modesty plays in
the evolution of clothes." The clothing of the present-day Dyaks serves
as a protection against the heat of the sun, and in the mountains
against cold, and as a prevention of the darkening of the skin (which,
particularly in women, is considered ugly); it is also used as an
ornament and to scare enemies, but never for the concealment of the
body. The Dyaks show shame when made embarrassed before other people; on
such occasions they blush right down to the breast. Nieuwenhuis made use
of this circumstance in the case of the Bahaus in order to make them
keep their promises and do their duties (II., p. 296).

The Eskimos in the far north of America are, as a rule, thickly clothed;
but it is quite usual for them to go about naked in their snow huts
without any thought of offending against decency.

Whoever lives for a time among naked savages becomes accustomed to their
nakedness, and does not feel anything objectionable in it. Æsthetically
there is this disadvantage, that the sick and the aged look very
repulsive in their decline; but then again youth and strength show off
to great advantage in nakedness.

If the origin of clothing is not due to sexual modesty, it would at
first appear strange that so many naked savages cover their sexual
organs either completely or partly, wearing a pubic apron or some
similar arrangement. The contrivances used are sometimes so small that
they can hardly have been intended as coverings. Thus the women of the
Karaib, Aruak, and Tupi tribes in the Xingui region all wear a
triangular piece of bark bast not more than 7 centimetres wide and 3
centimetres high. The lower end of the triangle runs into a perineal
strip of hard bark about 4 millimetres wide. Two narrow cords coming
from the two upper ends pass along the groins, and meet the narrow
perineal strip coming from the lower end of the triangle. These _uluri_
only just cover the beginning of the pubic cleft, pressing tightly on
it. The triangle does not reach the introitus vaginæ, which is, however,
closed, or at least kept inwards, by the pressure exerted by the
tightened strip of bast running from front to back. Similar binders are
used by the Indian women of Central Brazil. The binder used by the
Trumai women is twisted into a cord, serving still less as a cover. In
fact, none of these binders serve as covers, but they are intended to
close up and to protect the mucous membrane. This also applies to the
binders used by the various peoples living on the islands of the Pacific
Ocean, as, _e.g._, by the Mafulus of Papua.

Various contrivances are also to be met with among many primitive men
which seem to have the purpose of protecting the penis, and which really
achieve that end. Among certain tribes of Brazil penis wraps made from
palm straw are worn; other tribes use a T-shaped bandage, which is also
very common in Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. The penis is pulled
up by means of the T-bandage, the testicles remaining free. Sometimes
old men use a broad band, under which they can also push the testicles.
In the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, and other places, the penis is
tightly bandaged, and is drawn up and fastened to the girdle by means of
a cord or band, the testicles hanging free. Calabashes are also used to
protect the penis. In Melanesia the penis pin goes with the calabash.
Georg Friederici (p. 155) says about its use: "The penis pin, which is
the shape of a wooden knitting needle, is stuck into the hair near the
comb, and is often brought into use. The calabash, which serves the
purpose of protecting the penis against injury in the bush and attacks
from insects, has the disadvantage of easily becoming loose and filling
quickly with water during swimming and wading. After every passage of a
river reaching above the pubic region a halt had to be made, during
which my men took off their calabashes and emptied them; then they put a
new layer of green leaves into the round opening, stuck the penis in,
and, with the help of the penis pin, pushed it in until it had
completely disappeared and the calabash lay close to the abdomen." When
sitting round the camp fire, and at other times, the men can be seen
drawing the pins from their hair and making their toilet. The covering
of the penis is undoubtedly intended as a protection of the sensitive
glans. Thus in the Brazilian forest the penis becomes endangered by
spines of leaves being brushed off the branches and boring themselves
deeply into the flesh; the spines get torn when pulled out, and cause
painful inflammations. For warding off insects the women of many Indian
tribes have tassels hanging in front of the sex organs. In the Northern
Territory of Australia both men and women wear such tassels. There are
still greater dangers in the wilderness. In Brazil there exists a small
fish (_Cetopsis candiru_) which has a tendency towards boring itself
into any of the exposed orifices of the body. It slips into the urethra,
and is prevented by its fins from getting out again, and thus may easily
bring about the death of the victim, to whom nothing remains but to
attempt an impromptu operation by slitting open the urethra with his
knife. Friederici remarks that it is just in those regions of tropical
America where the protection of the penis is most prevalent that fish
with sharp teeth (Pygocentrus species) are to be found which have a
tendency towards attacking protruding unprotected parts of the body,
thus often causing castration in men.

There is no foundation for the assumption of Adolf Gerson that men
invented the apron or resorted to binding up of the penis in order to
hide its erection, which would make them appear ridiculous, for sex
matters do not appear ridiculous to primitive people. In fact, such
contrivances cannot hide sexual excitement. Many peoples who use them do
not even have the wish to keep their excitement secret. Habituation to
nakedness ultimately lessens the stimulus to excitement. The following
fact, stated by Friederici, is worthy of notice: "During the many months
in which I lived exclusively among the natives I never saw even the
slightest sign of an erection in sleeping men, nor have I ever heard or
read that any one else has noticed such a thing among naked primitive
peoples, untouched by civilisation." Clothing has nothing to do with
sexual feelings or modesty among primitive people. To the people living
in the tropics clothes are essentially ornamental; they are worn for
reasons of vanity, not out of modesty. This can be well observed in
those cases where loin-cloths which actually cover up the pubic region
are raised without any consideration for people present, if there is any
danger of their becoming soiled or injured. The Malay women in the
central part of Luzon (Philippines), when working in the fields, discard
their wrappings without worrying in the least if observed by the men. It
is the same in other places.

As has been said before, among some naked peoples it is the custom for
the men to fasten up the penis without any covering under a hip band. In
other places they tie up the foreskin with a thread. By this means
protection is also given to the glans, but it is questionable whether
this was always the origin of this custom. In fact, it is doubtful
whether the need for protection was always the only reason for the
wearing of sheaths, binders, etc., for at least among some of the people
it is connected with some ceremonial which implies its sexual
significance. In the case of women, another factor may have played a
_rôle_, viz., the fact that menstruation is considered an illness, as
may be seen in the widespread custom of treating girls medically during
menstruation. The binder may have been intended to counteract the loss
of blood. The stretching of the foreskin which results from the use of
penis wraps, penis binders, etc., may be looked upon as a precaution
against phimosis, serving the same purpose as circumcision does among
numerous peoples.

Sexual modesty with regard to the naked body cannot be considered innate
in mankind, for it is unknown among many naked peoples. On the other
hand, there is an instinctive tendency in man to hide from his fellows
the effluvia of the sexual and digestive organs. Thus H. Ellis (p. 40)
gives a good explanation of the impulse towards concealment during the
sex act: "Both male and female need to guard themselves during the
exercise of their sexual activities from jealous rivals, as well as from
enemies who might take advantage of their position to attack them. It is
highly probable that this is one important factor in the constitution of
modesty, and it helps to explain how the male, not less than the female,
cultivates modesty and shuns publicity in the exercise of sexual
functions." The idea, begotten from fear, that sexual intercourse must
be kept secret, became easily extended to the feeling that such
intercourse was in itself wrong. The mystery surrounding sexual
intercourse has certainly been one of the factors leading to its
concealment. Primitive man has a tendency towards endowing with
supernatural powers all processes that he cannot understand; they become
sacred, and hence have to be carried out in privacy. The feeling of
disgust may perhaps be an additional reason for the concealment of the
sex act. The objects arousing disgust vary among different peoples
according to the conditions of their lives; but almost everywhere
dangerous things are classed under this category, to which belong,
according to the notion of primitive people, the discharges from the
sexual and digestive organs. It thus comes about that primitive man is
ashamed of urinating and defæcating even before persons of his own sex.
Even the lowest savage will seek out a very secluded spot for the
fulfilment of these functions. Thus Koch-Grünberg, for instance, says:
"The Indian goes deep into the wood for a certain business, comparing
favourably in this respect with our own peasants." Friederici writes of
the Melanesians that they are not at all ashamed to show the sexual
parts, but are extremely shy of exposing the anus, and will always avoid
letting themselves be seen during defæcation. In the central districts
the people betake themselves for this purpose early in the morning to
some outlying place, while those living near the sea go to the beach,
each person keeping as far away as possible from his neighbour. The
Africans that have not yet become spoiled by contact with strangers
also seek remote places (Weule and Schweinfurth). The negroes, however,
who are under Mohammedan influence, approach in this respect the beasts
of the field.

The tales of licentiousness among primitive people that are to be found
in old works of travel are mostly invented or grossly exaggerated.
Looseness and laxity do not exist anywhere, though the unwritten laws
which regulate the behaviour of the sexes are different from ours.
Unbridled indulgence is nowhere to be found; the public performance of
the sex act takes place only exceptionally among some peoples, and then
for ceremonial purposes. Even where, on festival occasions, marital
intercourse takes place as a matter of course, the couples disappear
into the darkness. So far as can be judged from ethnological literature,
Europeans have rarely had the opportunity of observing the sex act, and
then nearly exclusively among the African negroes, who must be reckoned
the most sensual of all existing peoples. (See the works of Leo
Frobenius and Georg Schweinfurth.)



Travellers and missionaries, seeing things merely from the standpoint of
European civilisation, have for a long time attributed to primitive
people conceptions of sexual behaviour like our own. But the real truth
could not be hidden for long. It is now firmly established that the
moral ideas of primitive people differ as widely from ours as does their
sense of modesty. They do not consider sexual intercourse _per se_ as
immoral, and generally allow unmarried people full liberty. It is only
where a more advanced civilisation leads to material considerations in
the matter of sex relationship that, as a rule, this liberty is
restricted or entirely in abeyance. Should any consequences ensue from
the practice of free love, the lover is generally in duty bound to marry
the girl. Among some tribes, however, no such obligation exists; the
lover may break off his connection with the pregnant girl. Frequently in
cases of pre-marital pregnancy abortion is resorted to, which is very
prevalent among primitive races. Among some people, on the contrary, a
girl who has had a child gets married the more easily, for she has given
proof of her fertility. Besides, the child will be an additional worker
in the house.

Most peoples demand conjugal fidelity from their married women, though
we shall hear of some exceptions. It is certainly not correct, as
Buschan (1912, p. 237) says, that the rules concerning sexual
intercourse are stringent throughout for women, and that only in a
childless marriage may a woman take up with another man.

Among many peoples, living so far apart as Asia, Australia, Oceania and
Africa, we find that married men and women are in certain cases allowed
intercourse with other persons. The full meaning of this arrangement is
as yet unknown.

The idea of sexual purity is not innate nor unchangeable. Ethnographical
research has fully proved that purity in our sense of the term is
unknown even to-day among many peoples, and that there exist no
restrictions upon sexual intercourse except for the prevention of
cohabitation among blood relations. A greater or less degree of sexual
liberty before marriage prevails among most of those peoples in Asia
that are not under the influence of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Indeed, it even exists among some uncivilised Hindu tribes, as, _e.g._,
among the lower Hindu castes of Kashmir and of the Punjab mountains, the
various lower castes of Agra-Oudh, in the Central Provinces and Berar,
and in Southern India; but they restrict pre-marital relationship to
persons of their own community. Most Dravidian races, however, forbid
intercourse between members of the same exogamic group, though it takes
place at times in spite of this. The Mongolian races generally show
indifference in this respect. Thus T. C. Hudson (p. 78) says of the
Nagas in Manipur that they are conspicuous for their exceptionally loose
pre-marital relationship, although they demand strict fidelity in
marriage. Pre-marital intercourse between persons to whom marriage is
forbidden is not considered improper, which may be due to the fact that
the Nagas, like the Australian tribes, are ignorant of the process of

Among many native Indian tribes the grown-up children do not sleep in
their parents' huts, but in houses of their own, in which they commonly
visit each other by night. Should a girl become pregnant, the probable
father is expected to marry her. If he refuses, he has to pay damages,
and the girl is at liberty to marry some one else, which she can do
without any difficulty. Sometimes abortion is resorted to, especially
when both persons belong to the same exogamic group, the members of
which are not allowed to intermarry. The tribes of Baroda, the Maduvars
of Madras, and the Ghasyas of the United Provinces, permit a
probationary period of cohabitation. It is considered no disgrace for a
girl if the trial marriage does not result in a permanent marriage.
Among the Garos it is an unwritten law that after certain great
festivals young men and women may sleep together. Otherwise these Garos,
like the tribes and castes previously referred to, are strictly
monogamous. Sexual promiscuity often occurs after feasts, and it is not
restricted to the unmarried (Playfair, p. 68).

It is only seldom that unfaithfulness on the part of married women is
tolerated. But there are exceptions. Gait states that in the Djamna
mountains the women of the Thakkar, Megh, and other low castes lead just
as unrestrained a life after marriage as before. The Djats of
Baluchistan are in ill repute because they incite their married women to
unfaithfulness, if any advantage can be obtained thereby for the men.
Certain nomadic castes, such as the Mirasis, prostitute their women, and
the love affairs of married women of the servant class meet with no
opposition whatever. In the eastern region of Djamba, in the Punjab, the
husband is expected to allow a guest free entrance to the women's
chambers. In the western part of this province the Djats and Pathans
will often take back married women who have eloped, and not rarely a
husband will recognise as his own a son who may have been born while the
woman was away.

In Southern India married women enjoy a great deal of sexual freedom,
especially in those communities where the descent is reckoned in the
female line. Where marriage between cousins is customary, grown-up girls
are often married to quite young boys. During the immaturity of the
husband the wife is allowed to have sexual relations with the father of
her child husband or another near relation, sometimes even with any one
member of the caste chosen by her. This custom also exists in Kashmir,
not only among the Ladakhis, but also among other low Hindu castes, and
is also to be found in other parts of the world. Many South Indian
castes allow their married women much freedom with the relatives of
their husbands. The Tootiyans go so far as to forbid a husband to enter
his house if he finds the door locked and a relation's shoe before it.
The Maloyali, a mountain tribe, accept unfaithfulness on the part of
their wives quite lightly, unless the partner belongs to another caste;
if a woman lives for a time with a lover and has children during this
time, the husband will on her return recognise the children as his own.
The state of affairs is similar among the Kudans and Parivarams. Many
low Hindu castes in North Kanara allow their women extra-marital
intercourse with men of their own or of a higher caste. Among some
castes, such as the Irulas and Kurumbas, formal marriage is completely
unknown, an almost unbridled sexual promiscuity taking its place. A
Korawa of Madras who has debts to pay either pawns or simply sells his
wife. The Todas and other polyandrous communities of South India do not
know jealousy (Rivers, 1906, p. 592; Iyer, I., p. 136). An exception to
the rule that faithfulness in marriage is more strictly enforced than
purity before marriage is to be found among the Pongalakapus of Madras,
who allow extra-marital intercourse of married women, but punish that of
unmarried girls and widows (Gait).

The Veddahs of Ceylon, who, according to Paul and Fritz Sarasin, are
physically and intellectually of the lowest human type, practise
monogamy, which lasts until the death of one of the partners. Marital
unfaithfulness is rare, and leads to heavy punishment of the offending
rival, who, as a rule, is assassinated. Only where foreign influence has
become apparent is there a tendency to dissolve marriage before death
(Paul and Fritz Sarasin).

Hose and MacDougall mention that among the nomadic hunting tribes of
Inner Borneo "the women are chaster after marriage than before."
Apparently neither sex practises much restraint. A girl's pregnancy
generally results in her marriage with the father of the expected child.
Amongst the settled tribes of Borneo a young man seeks a love affair as
soon as he is attracted to the other sex; he may have relations with
several girls one after another, but generally marries early. The
marriage age of the men is about twenty, of the girls still earlier.
There is no information about their marital fidelity.

The Dutchmen Hinlopen and Severijn state that in 1852 they found on the
Poggi Islands, on the west coast of Sumatra, a state of complete
promiscuity. Some of the men are said to get married, but only very
late, between the ages of forty and fifty, when their detailed tattooing
is completed; it is only seldom that a young man takes a separate wife.
G. A. Wilken enumerates the following East Indian communities as living
in sexual promiscuity: the Lubus, the Orang-Sakai of Malacca, the
Olo-Ot, and other Bornean tribes; the inhabitants of the island Peling.
He adduces no evidence, however; and his statement is certainly
incorrect as far as the Sakai of Malacca are concerned. Among the
non-Christian tribes of the Philippine Islands considerable pre-marital
liberty prevails. Among the Igorotes, _e.g._, the dormitory of the
unmarried girls (the _olag_) serves also as the pairing place of the
marriageable young people. In the villages young people, joking and
laughing, can frequently be seen going about wrapped in one blanket and
with their arms round each other. There is no secrecy about the wooing;
it is carried on mainly in the _olag_. Marriage rarely takes place
without previous intercourse, and seldom before the girl is pregnant. An
exception to this rule only occurs when a rich man marries a girl
against her will at the parents' wish. Not infrequently a young man has
affairs with two or three girls at one and the same time. The girls
quite openly and unmistakably invite the men to go with them into the
_olag_. As soon as a girl becomes pregnant, she at once joyfully informs
the father of the child, for these people are very fond of children. If
the man refuses to marry the girl, there is likely to be tears, but no
one is much concerned about the infidelity itself, because the girl can
find a husband later on in spite of her having borne a child; indeed,
the more so, as there can be no doubt of her fertility. It is not
customary for married men to enter the _olag_. A young man, however, can
go there if his former love has remained single and welcomes him,
because she still has hopes of becoming his wife, for it is easy to get
a separation, and if a man can afford it, he may have two or three
wives, though polygamy is rare. A man whose wife is pregnant does not
visit the _olag_, for it is feared that this may bring about a premature
birth and cause the death of the child. Married women apparently remain
always faithful (A. E. Jenks, p. 66). Ferdinand Blumentritt makes a
statement, based on Spanish information, that the girls' houses of the
Igorotes serve the purpose of ensuring pre-marital purity. This,
however, is incorrect.

Very similar customs prevail among the Naga tribes of Assam (Peal, pp.
244 _et seq._).

The pure Senoi and Semang tribes of the Malay Peninsula practise strict
monogamy. Marriage takes place at an early age, sometimes between boys
of fourteen and girls of thirteen. Even betrothals of children seem to
occur. Marital unfaithfulness is punished with death (Martin, 1905, p.

In many districts of Australia, indeed, among the majority of the
natives of the Australian continent, there exist two forms of sexual
union side by side. The one form consists in a girl's being given in
marriage to one man without regard to the difference in ages, and also
without any consideration for feelings of personal sympathy. Indeed,
such is hardly possible, for the girls are given to the men at a very
young age. The main cause of these unions is apparently economic. It
ensures the man a housekeeper for himself who has to gather the largest
share of provisions, for the result of the man's hunting yields only a
very small part of the absolutely essential food. A man may have,
according to his social position, one or more such housekeepers. In
addition, each man and woman may form a union with one or more of the
other sex merely for the purpose of sexual intercourse. Unlike the
"marriages" previously mentioned, these unions do not take place without
any formality--there is a special ceremony for the occasion. They do not
last for life, at least among some of the tribes, but are regulated from
time to time. This form of sexual union is generally called _pirauru_ in
ethnographical literature, after the designation in use among the tribes
of the Dieri, where this kind of sex community was first observed. The
men of a _pirauru_ group are either consanguineous or collateral
brothers, members of one and the same subdivision of the tribe;
similarly, the women of a _pirauru_ group are consanguineous or
collateral sisters. Sexual intercourse with a _pirauru_ wife is allowed
during the absence of the husband who is her usual mate, and also at
special festivals. When a man's housekeeper dies, her children are cared
for by one of his _pirauru_ wives until he gets another housekeeper.
Without the institution of _pirauru_, the younger men would be barred
from sexual intercourse. Many of them are without housekeepers, as most
of the young women are in the possession of the older influential men.
It has been said that the old men are often killed by the young men on
this account (Spencer, p. 11). The majority of the tribes that have the
institution of _pirauru_ are ignorant of the connection between sexual
intercourse and conception (see Chapter VI.). It is therefore not the
production of progeny which seems to be the purpose of a common
household between man and woman, nor of the _pirauru_ unions.

Institutions similar to the Australian _pirauru_ also exist outside
Australia. Codrington (p. 22) has established the fact that in the
Solomon Islands and in other parts of Melanesia a woman of an exogamic
group who is not yet married to one particular man may legitimately have
sexual intercourse with all men of another exogamic group who are her
potential husbands. The exogamic groups play a far more important _rôle_
than individual marriage. In the Fijian Islands every man has the right
to sexual intercourse with his wife's sisters. On special ceremonial
occasions intercourse is permitted between those groups of men and women
who stand in the relationship of possible conjugal partners (Thomson, p.

Pre-marital sexual freedom of both sexes exists, or did exist, all over
the South Sea islands before the advent of European influence. Thus,
_e.g._, Robert W. Williamson (pp. 172-176) writes of the Mafulus, in
the mountains of New Guinea, that unmarried youths and maidens are
allowed to associate with each other without any precautions. There
exists a good deal of "immorality." Even after marriage (which takes
place with an elaborate pretence of bride capture) husband and wife are,
as a rule, not faithful to each other, the marriage bond being very
loose. But it is said that unfaithfulness on the part of the women
(though not of the men) is considered a great offence. The injured
husband used to have the right of killing the guilty man, which he did,
as a rule, until the British authorities put an end to the practice.
Nowadays the deceived husband is generally satisfied if he receives a
pig or some other article of value from the guilty rival.

In Africa sexual community is allowed at certain periods among the
Hereros (Brinker, p. 88). Among many other Bantu tribes sexual communism
is customary, particularly at the initiation of the young people. The
girls, too, are allowed to choose male partners for a time, and among
many tribes of South Africa it was customary for the girls who refused
to be given to men against their will. The Colonial Government has now
put a stop to this (Theal).

The statements about the Hottentots of South Africa vary. But the custom
of _sore_, which is found among them, seems to point to the existence of
an institution similar to the Australian _pirauru_. Schultze (pp. 299,
319) thinks that illicit love was punished among the Hottentots before
the extensive immigration of the white people into South Africa led to
the overthrow of their old customs. Either the guilty couple were
beaten, with the consent of the parents, or the lover received, in
addition to his own, his sweetheart's share of punishment. But Schultze
mentions also that the institution of _sore_, intended ostensibly for
the exchange of love gifts, really means in many cases a secret
agreement for intimate extra-marital relationship, though it is
generally quite honourable. This institution is by no means an

The Hamitic tribes of East Africa, who belong to the most warlike races
of mankind, permit pre-marital intercourse of both sexes. A. C. Hollis
(1909, pp. 16, 77) says of the Nandi; "The unmarried warriors, as many
as ten, sleep in the huts called _sigiroinet_, where the girls visit
them and remain with them a few days, living with them in free love."
Married women are not allowed to enter these huts. When the warriors go
away for a time or go to war, their sweethearts keep the huts in order.
Real "family life" is unknown, for the bigger boys and girls also live
alone in special huts or together with the old women; the little boys
who serve the warriors sleep in their houses. There is no publicly
recognised punishment for adultery; but if a husband discovers another
man not belonging to his _mat_ (one of the subdivisions of each of the
seven age classes) with his wife or one of his wives, he beats him
severely. Adultery is also not considered wrong when it concerns a
couple that have previously lived together in free love in the warriors'
house, even when the woman does not belong to a _mat_ comrade. When a
Nandi travels and wishes to remain somewhere overnight, he must first of
all apply to another member of his _mat_ in the place. If there is one,
and both men are married, the latter gives hospitality to the guest,
commissions his wife to fulfil his wishes, and leaves the hut in order
to sleep elsewhere. The wife pours water over the hands of the guest,
brings him a stool and food, puts his weapons into a place of safety,
and spends the night with him. Should there be no member of his _mat_ in
the place, the traveller betakes himself to a member of the nearest
_mat_; and, after having explained the situation, he is treated exactly
as if both men belonged to the same _mat_. Members of different age
classes do not offer each other hospitality or expect it. If the
traveller is unmarried, he spends the night in the warriors' hut.
Children born before marriage are killed by the Nandis, only one group
making an exception to this rule.

The Masai have when travelling the same customs as the Nandis. Sexual
intercourse with a girl or woman of the same age class is not considered
wrong. A warrior marries the girl he makes pregnant. Children born
before marriage are considered a disgrace. A person who has relations
with a woman belonging to the paternal age class must beg pardon of the
older men and give as reparation two oxen or a commensurate quantity of
honey wine. An old man who has sexual intercourse with his daughter or
with another girl of her age is severely punished, if the affair comes
to light: he is beaten, his kraal is pulled down, and his cattle are
killed _ad libitum_ (Hollis, 1905, pp. 287, 312, 313).

Of the conditions existing among the Baganda in East Africa the
missionary John Roscoe (p. 10) gives us the following picture: "Neither
the men nor the women controlled their sexual cravings unless
insurmountable obstacles came in the way. Women, however, could only
attain their aims by stratagem. If an unmarried girl became pregnant,
the guilty man had to pay a fine, and he was induced to marry the girl.
If a husband discovered his wife with another man, he had the right to
kill them both. Nevertheless the married women kept in strict seclusion
used to receive lovers, which even the most dreadful punishments for
adultery could not prevent." It has to be noticed that the social
formation of classes was already greatly developed among the Baganda at
the time described by Roscoe. The wealthy men were in a position to have
as many wives as they could support, so that there was a scarcity of
women for the remaining men. It is not remarkable, therefore, that these
tried to meet this fact by force and cunning. Although married women
were secluded, single girls had a fair amount of liberty.

Among the Bushmen of South Africa, now nearly extinct, husband and wife
remained faithful to each other for life. But if they became tired of
each other, no hindrance was put in the way of separation and
remarriage. A second husband, however, or a second wife was most
probably never accepted into the family; their passionate temperament
was against it (Theal).

About the Indians of North-west Brazil Koch-Grünberg relates: "Whilst
young girls enjoy the greatest liberty, their purity not being
necessarily above suspicion, marriage itself is generally on a higher
plane; a married couple are rarely unfaithful to each other."
Koch-Grünberg has never noticed even the semblance of indecent behaviour
between married people, nor under normal circumstances any serious
quarrels or ugly scenes. The same or similar conditions prevail nearly
all over South America where European influence is not yet predominant.
Karl von den Steinen (p. 501) mentions one exception to this rule. The
Bororos, who live on the St. Lourenco river, and who were visited by
him, have greatly degenerated, thanks to the civilising arts of the
Brazilians. A marriage is concluded without any formality and without
the consent of the parents. The young wife remains with her children in
her parents' house. The young husband only spends the night there;
during the day he lives in the men's house when he is not hunting. The
young couple have a hearth for themselves, the grandmother with the
grandchildren sitting somewhat apart. Thus it remains up to the death of
the grandparents. The grandmother suckles the child when the young wife
accompanies her husband on the hunt or fetches palm nuts from the woods;
she still has milk when her children marry. Young unmarried men live
together in special men's houses. They look out betimes for wives. There
are two customs which deserve our interest. A girl's ear-lobes are bored
by her future husband. If he himself does not marry her, his son does
so. Furthermore, the man who puts the penis cuff on a boy becomes
related to him and marries his sister or his aunt. Girls were taken to
the men's house quite openly by day, or were caught at night. These
girls were not married to one man; any children born were fathered on
those men with whom the girl had had relations. This state of affairs is
the result of the overweening power wielded by the older men. The women
are their possession, and a regular income of arrows and trinkets is
earned by hiring out the girls to the men's house. Unnatural intercourse
is not unknown in the men's house, but it occurs only when there is an
exceptionally great scarcity of girls. According to a statement of a
native, the same conditions prevail in the remote villages, where some
only of the members of a tribe have permanent possession of the women.
But such information given by the natives must be accepted with great
caution. No similar customs have become known anywhere else in South

In North America the young people also had great liberty, but the
married women dared not break their faith. Among many tribes, especially
the nomadic hunting tribes, there existed patriarchal conditions, with
complete subordination of the women. Intercourse with any one but their
rightful husbands was taken in bad part. Nowadays the Indians of North
America, with the exception of a small remnant living in the Canadian
Tundra, have come under the influence of Christianity. The probable
existence of an earlier sex communism among the North American Indians
has been described in full by L. H. Morgan.

F. Nansen reports that among the Christian Eskimos of the west coast of
Greenland the girls do not consider pre-marital motherhood as a
disgrace. The green hair-band which the unmarried mothers have to wear
is put on by them long before it is necessary. The young Greenland girls
do not deem any concealment of their love affairs necessary. In East
Greenland, which has not yet been reached by Christianity, it is
customary for a man who wants a wife simply to abduct the girl from her
house or tent. The abduction is often only a pretence, for the couple
have settled it all between themselves. Formerly this form of marriage
was in vogue all over Greenland. The relations look on quietly, for it
is all a private affair of those immediately concerned. Should the girl
really not wish to have the suitor, she will defend herself until she
quietens down or the wooer renounces her. Divorce also takes place
without any difficulties; but generally the marriage is continued if
there is a child, particularly if it should be a boy. If a man covets
the wife of another, he will take her without any hesitation, if he is
the stronger. Among the non-Christian Eskimos most of the skilful
hunters have two wives, but never more. The first wife is generally
looked upon as the superior. Temporary exchange of wives occurs up to
the present time even among the Christians on the west coast, especially
when the people have to spend the summer hunting the reindeer in the
interior of the country. As a rule, married people live on exceptionally
good terms with each other.

Among the Netchili Eskimos near the Magnetic North Pole, however,
conjugal harmony is, according to Roald Amundsen, not of the best. As a
rule, the wife only escapes being beaten when she is stronger than the
man. Exchange of women is quite common. Most of the girls are destined
from birth for certain men, though sometimes things do not turn out as
the parents wish it. When the girl is fourteen years old she seeks out
her bridegroom, or he comes to her. There is no wedding. Amundsen doubts
whether the couple have, as a rule, any tender feelings towards each
other. The girl is just given to the man by the parents, the man
marrying her in order to have one more domestic drudge, for in reality
the wife is nothing more nor less than a domestic animal. Most Eskimos
offer their wives to any one.

Among the Kamchadales, Chukchee, Jukagiers and Tunguses of North Asia
the girls have pre-marital liberty, and there exists no marital
fidelity. W. Bogoras (p. 602) describes "group marriage" among the
Chukchee, which seems to be an institution similar to the Australian
_pirauru_. There are groups, consisting of up to ten men or women, that
have the right to sexual intercourse with each other; "but this right is
comparatively rarely taken advantage of, only when a man has for some
reason to visit the camp of one of his group companions. The host then
gives up to him his place in the sleeping room, and if possible leaves
the house for the night, going, for instance, to his flock. Afterwards
the host generally seeks an opportunity of returning the visit, so as to
exercise his rights in turn." The sex communities are generally composed
of neighbours and friends. The offspring of brothers and sisters in the
second and third generations are, as a rule, united in the same sex
community, but not brothers. Bogoras thinks that the communities were
originally limited to members of a group who were related, and were only
later extended to other people; the ceremonies at the formation of a
group seem to imply this. The persons concerned bring sacrifices and
anoint themselves with blood, first in the one and then in the other
camp. The admission into a group of persons who greatly diverge from
each other in age is not welcomed, and single men are also not willingly
admitted. The inhabitants of one and the same camp are seldom willing
to form a sex community, for reciprocal relationship is intended as an
exception rather than the rule, though there are deviations from this
rule. Every individual family of the Chukchee belongs in practice to
some sex community. Should a family keep to themselves, it would
indicate that they had no friends and no protectors in time of need. The
children of members of a sex community are reckoned as near blood
relations, and may not marry one another.

It is quite different among the Koryaks, the neighbours of the Chukchee.
They demand abstinence from the girls before marriage, and there is
rarely any transgression against this law. Pregnancy before marriage is
a disgrace, and unmarried mothers are forced to give birth in the
wilderness. Children born before marriage are killed. After the advent
of puberty the girls sleep in their "combinations," which are fashioned
in such a way as to exclude undesirable intercourse. Intercourse between
engaged couples is also looked upon as sinful. Sometimes the girl lives
with relatives in another place for a time, or is kept hidden until the
bridegroom works off at her parents' home the service which he owes to
them. Incest is strictly avoided, for it is feared that the evil-doers
must die in consequence of it. The various prohibitions existing at the
present day with regard to the marriage of certain consanguineous or
adopted relations are only of recent date; they were unknown formerly
(Jochelson, p. 733). Perhaps the other existing sexual customs are also
the result of missionary activities.

The above examples, chosen at random, plainly show that the conceptions
of sexual morality generally held by primitive people are different from
those prevalent under European civilisation. Very often these primitive
customs have been greatly influenced or altogether exterminated by the
example or the power of the European colonists. Whether this was of
benefit to the races cannot be discussed here.

After all, European morality is not so very superior to that of the
"savages." As Georg Friederici (p. 85) pertinently says: "Almost
everywhere in our society we shut our eyes to the fact that our young
men do what is forbidden to them, but is permitted to the Melanesian and
Polynesian girls. We admit the State regulation of prostitution or, to
avoid greater scandal, even street prostitution; yet we set out in moral
indignation to reform the customs of primitive peoples which have proved
their value and are consistent with their moral laws. Having nothing
better to put in their place, we merely introduce among them what
happens to be our own canker."

Everywhere the fight against the traditional moral ideals has resulted
merely in the introduction of prostitution, with all its corruption. We
should therefore refrain from reforms that are misplaced, and should not
attack customs that cannot be replaced by better ones, and that do not
stand in the way of colonisation.



Very often we find among primitive people that marriage is preceded by a
pretended bride capture, though the couple themselves and their
relations have agreed to the union. This gave occasion to the belief
that the capture of women was formerly a widespread and original form of
marriage. The pretended capture does not, however, seem to imply the
existence of true "marriage by capture," but rather seems to indicate
the fact that formerly brides were often given to men against their will
and had to be forced to go with them. The fact that often the abducting
bridegroom is in fun beaten by the brothers or other male relations of
the girl does not exclude this conclusion, for the thrashing may be a
later embellishment of the game of abduction, its purpose being to
increase the pleasure of the guests by satisfying their spectacular
desire. It is worthy of note that in Assam among the matriarchal Garos
there is a pretended capture of the bridegroom. It would be a mistake to
conclude from this that formerly mother-rule actually existed among the
Garos. In the report on the ethnographical survey of the Indian Central
Provinces (V., p. 53) it is stated that it was formerly customary among
the Kulams to capture men for those of their girls who would otherwise
have remained unmarried.

Among the peoples whose girls are married at a very young age no wooing
is customary, as, _e.g._, among the Dravidian Indians, the Australians,
their near relations, and others. Marriage in these cases takes place
without any or with very little ceremony (Jagor, Spencer, Howitt). It
has been impossible so far in India to check the evil custom of child
marriage; on the contrary, it is becoming more prevalent among the
animistic tribes.

Child engagements rather than child marriages are prevalent among many
peoples, as among the Asiatic Polar races and the Eskimos of North
America. But among most of these peoples free courtship exists. Thus
Jochelson writes about the Koryaks in the extreme north-east of Asia:
"If a Koryak falls in love with a girl, he generally sends a match-maker
to the father of the girl; but this is not always the case, and
particularly so if the parents do not agree to the son's choice.
Frequently the young man, without telling anybody of his intentions,
goes to the girl's home and does all the work there which is seemly for
a man. The father-in-law accepts his services also in silence. If he is
pleased with the bridegroom, he entrusts him with commissions; otherwise
he lets him feel that he must leave the house. The bridegroom's service
lasts from six months to three years. This service cannot be conceived
as 'payment' for the bride, for the wealthier of the Konaks could pay
with reindeer instead of working off the price of the bride. Besides,
the bride receives a dowry of reindeer, which is worth much more than
the service given by the son-in-law. This service is only an empty
formality, if the wooer is an older man. It rather seems as if the main
purpose of the service is to put the bridegroom to the test, for it is
not the actual work done that is of most importance, but the harsh
treatment that he has to endure and the meagre and laborious life that
he is forced to lead. The service comes to an end whenever the
father-in-law decides. The man then leads his bride home without any
formality, although she at first pretends to struggle against it; she
gives up this pretence as soon as the man succeeds in touching her sex
organs. Should a girl really not care for the man intended for her, she
will attempt to escape in reality; but she is ultimately forced by her
parents into marriage. Often, however, the girl's inclination is taken
into consideration before she is given into marriage."

Among the inland tribes of Borneo young people get married as soon as
they have reached maturity. The young man sends a confidential friend to
the parents of the girl desired, who, as a matter of form, make
objections and invent all manner of excuses. Only after the second or
third visit of the go-between is the matter taken at all seriously and a
decision arrived at. If the parents agree, they receive from the
go-between presents sent by the bridegroom, and the girl sends her lover
strings of pearls. The time of the new moon is considered the best time
for marriage. The wedding day is kept count of by both parties having
strings with an equal number of knots, from which one knot is cut off
each day. The marriage is celebrated with festivities, the bridegroom
and guests appearing in war dress; there is great feasting and much
ceremony (Hose and McDougall, II., pp. 171 _et seq._).

Among the Mafulu, a hill tribe of New Guinea, child engagements are
frequent, but the courting of adults seems to predominate. R. W.
Williamson writes (p. 170) that in one case known to him a girl of
sixteen or seventeen years old was looked upon as married to the yet
unborn son of a chief. When the boy died in early childhood, the girl
was reckoned to be his widow. If a young Mafulu youth wishes to marry
and does not know where to look for a bride, he will sometimes light a
fire outside the village; he will wait to see in which direction the
next gust of wind will blow the smoke, and there he will turn to seek a
wife. Often the youth carries about with him a bag with small pieces of
wood and stone. He rubs a piece of tobacco between two pieces and sends
it to the girl of his choice by one of her female relatives. He believes
that by this procedure the girl's heart will be turned towards him
through some mysterious power. The young men often obtain the necessary
pieces of wood or stone from a magician. The offer of marriage is also
made through a third person, generally a woman. The consent of the
parents is necessary; the marriage takes place without any special

Among the pigmy races of Asia and Africa child marriage exists side by
side with adult courtship. Of the Negritos of Zambales (Philippine
Islands) W. A. Reed (p. 56) says that the suitor has to pay a price for
the bride. The parents try to bargain for as much as possible, and it is
only when these demands have been fulfilled that the daughter has any
choice in the matter. The young man who has found a suitable girl
informs his family of the fact; they decide how much the girl is worth
and how much must be paid for her. Thereupon the suitor or a relative
inquires of the girl's family whether they agree to the marriage. If
they do, the purchase price is brought within a few days, and in case
this proves satisfactory to the parents these give their consent. In
many cases the girls are already in early youth promised to the boys
chosen by the parents, but the children remain with their parents until
maturity. Sometimes little girls are given to grown-up men, so that the
difference in ages is great, and the girls very unwillingly obey their
parents' will. When two families have daughters _and_ sons the girls are
exchanged as wives without either of the families paying a price. It is
said that slaves and stolen strange children are given as payment for
the bride. It is doubtful, however, according to W. A. Reed, whether
this still occurs. In many parts of the country the settlement of the
price is followed by feasting and dancing, at which pretended capture of
the bride plays a great _rôle_.

Among the Hamites of East Africa the custom exists of assigning girls
still far from mature as wives to certain adult men. If, _e.g._, a Masai
wishes to marry, he courts a very young girl, whose father receives
presents repeatedly. After the ritual operation is performed upon the
girl the young man goes to live in the house of his father-in-law,
bringing with him as gifts three cows and two oxen. When the time comes
for taking the bride home, an additional present of three sheep is made.
The girl puts on her bridal dress and follows the man without further
ceremony. A man who possesses a big herd of cattle can have many wives,
some rich men having as many as ten or twenty wives (Hollis, 1905, pp.
302, 303).

Among the negroes adult people have the right to choose their mates,
though choice is restricted through various traditional considerations.
Child engagements are not uncommon. Thus among the Bantus it is even
to-day often customary to assign children at an early age to each other
for marriage. Weule (p. 58) says of the Jaos in East Africa: "It is a
general custom for a woman who has just given birth to a child to say to
a pregnant neighbour: 'I have a daughter' (or 'a son'); 'if your child
proves to be a son' (or 'a daughter'), 'they shall marry each other.'
The other generally agrees, and this arrangement is adhered to later.
For adults there exist no special rules in the choice of mates nowadays,
and it is doubtful whether such existed previously. If a serf wants to
marry, he tells his father, who informs the master. The latter then
speaks with the father of the chosen girl. If the father agrees, the
daughter is brought in and asked for her opinion. If she is not willing
to marry the suitor, the affair is at an end. If she agrees, the
relatives, with the master at the head, consult together, and the
decision is then made. Among the Mokondes in the north of the Rowuma
river the young man looking out for marriage lets his parents negotiate
with the girl's parents. If they come to an agreement, the bridegroom
gives the bride's parents a present, which makes the affair binding.
Among the more conservative classes the eldest brother of the girl's
mother also has a voice in the matter, getting a share of the
bridegroom's presents. In olden times a Makonde boy lived after his
circumcision with one of his maternal uncles, into whose family he
afterwards married. If there were no girls in the family, he waited for
a cousin. The young man had to do all the work at his uncle's house
until the daughter grew up. Among the Makuas the suitor himself goes to
the girl's father, who again must get the consent of the mother's eldest
brother. Often all the brothers, instead of one, must be consulted. The
suitor goes the next day for his answer. If the answer is 'Yes,' the
time for the wedding is appointed, at which well-meant speeches are
made, and advice is given to the bridal pair. As a rule, the couple are
more or less of the same age, but it sometimes happens that young girls
are married by men much older than themselves."

Of the Hottentots Schultze (p. 297) writes: "A man who wishes to get a
confession of love from the girl of his choice gives her a little piece
of wood. If the two have come to an agreement, they break it, each
holding at one end, and then they throw the broken pieces at each
other's chest. The couple then commence courting, during which time they
are not allowed to speak a word with each other or to reach each other
anything. An intermediary acts between them for this purpose.
Transgressions have to be expiated by presents. It is all an amorous
game of hide-and-seek, which has hardened into a rigid custom. It can
continue thus for months or for a year, and longer, before the affair
ripens. This can happen in two ways: either openly by the parents'
consent being asked, or secretly by means of a symbolic action which
expresses the girl's agreement to complete surrender. The young man
draws off one of his skin shoes and throws it to the girl in private. If
she disregards the shoe, the proposal for an early union is rejected; in
the contrary case she gives the shoe back. When the wedding is to come
off, the parents negotiate with each other for some time, but more in
pretence than real earnest. When an agreement has been reached, the
marriage is celebrated with feasting."

Among the Indians marriage is entered into by free courtship, though
girls in particular, just as with us, are greatly dependent upon the
will of their parents. The girls marry sometimes at a very early age,
but marriage before maturity seems non-existent.

Koch-Grünberg (I., pp. 181, 182) says of the Siusis that the choice of
partners is not always the affair of those directly concerned. Often the
parents, or the father alone, choose the husband for the daughter. The
parents have no such strong influence on the son's choice. The wedding
is celebrated by dancing, which goes on for several days at the house of
the bride's father. At the end of the festivities the latter makes a
long speech to his son-in-law, and gives him over his daughter as wife,
wherewith the marriage is consummated. The young wife goes to her
husband's house, which, as a rule, also serves as the home of her
parents-in-law. The trousseau is generally small.

Among the Kobeua Indians of the Upper Rio Negro a young man wishing to
marry asks the permission of the father of his bride-elect. If he
consents, the bridegroom remains for five days in the house of his
parents-in-law, and a big dance and banquet is held, in which many
guests take part. At the end of the feast the father gives over his
daughter to his son-in-law, whereupon the couple go off, the father
breaking out into a ceremonial lament. Amongst some races capture of
women is said to be still customary. In any case the wife has to be from
another tribe. Evidence of woman capture is still to be found in the
tradition of the tribe (Koch-Grünberg, II., pp. 144, 145).

The Bakairis have no wedding celebrations. The marriage is discussed by
the parents. If they come to an agreement, the bride's father receives
some trifles as a present. The bridegroom hangs up his hammock above
that of the girl, and everything is settled. It is only where the tribe
has fallen into decay that great differences in the ages of the married
people occur, and that older men in particular have the privilege of
possessing young wives (compare Chapter II.). Divorce can be got without
difficulty, even when the man is unwilling.

Among the Paressis the marriage is arranged by the parents on both
sides, and the bride, after having received a few presents, is led by
her parents without any formality to her bridegroom's hammock (von den
Steinen, pp. 331, 434).

The custom of paying a price for the bride, prevalent among many races
all over the world, is frequently spoken of as marriage by purchase. The
price is very varied, and its value very unequal, but as a rule it is
relatively small, and not infrequently it is so small as to have no
economic value for the parents-in-law. Among the animistic tribes of
British India, who, as a rule, pay a price for the bride, the sum may
be as much as 200 rupees. Generally more is paid for a virgin than for a
widow; but there are some Indian castes of manual labourers among whom
the woman takes a share in the industrial work, and among whom the
reverse is the case. It sometimes happens that the price is adjusted
according to the age of the bride. Often brides are exchanged between
two families, so that the payment of a price is dispensed with.
"Marriage by service" still persists in various places, especially in
Asia. Here the future son-in-law, instead of paying a price for the
bride, has to work a certain number of years for the father of the
bride. Among most primitive people the woman represents labour power in
the house, as the men, either wholly or to a large extent, occupy
themselves with social concerns (E. Hahn). Domestic prosperity depends
wholly on the women's work. Thus it can easily be seen how the custom
came about of demanding some service from the man who wanted a wife.
Real purchase of a wife occurs only exceptionally among primitive
people. It is never the rule, nor is the woman a real object of barter.
If actual sale of women occurs in some cases, it is only an exception.
Such cases are only frequent where the influence of Islam is most

The bride price is wholly or partly paid back should the wife run away,
or even if she meets with an early death. If there are sisters, the
forsaken husband or widower may sometimes forego the restitution of the
price paid and accept one of the sisters as his wife.

In India a price for the bridegroom is paid, not only among the upper
castes of the civilised races, but also occasionally among the lower
castes and among the primitive natives.



By far the greatest number of primitive peoples are monogamous. Only in
relatively few cases is there polyandry. Polygyny often occurs among
persons who are specially favoured, either economically or socially; but
it is nowhere the form of marriage of the majority of the population.
The polygyny reported among certain tribes generally refers only to
chiefs, magic doctors, or some other special persons who have more than
one wife. Sexual group communism at the side of monogamy or polyandry
has been found in various places, but it is wrong to speak of it as
"group marriage." This is evident from the previously quoted examples of
the _pirauru_ in Australia, the sex communities among the Chukchee, the
Nandi, Masai, and others. It is possible, of course, that monogamy which
now co-exists with certain cases of sex communism may have been a later
addition, but this is not proven. It is more likely that the pairing
instinct (not identical with the instinct of procreation) is
characteristic of our sub-human ancestors. In fact, even in the animal
world there are numerous examples of monogamy (P. Deegener).

It has been established that in Africa, Indonesia, Melanesia, and
elsewhere, the small children remain with their parents, while the
bigger children are lodged together in special boys' and girls' houses,
and are, as it were, brought up communally. The relationship of the
children to their own parents is not notably closer than that between
them and other persons of the same age class. We must not look upon this
child communism solely as a curiosity, but as the relic of a very
ancient primitive institution. Most likely there is some connection
between child communism and the interchange of children which is
customary, for example, among the Dravidian races of India
("Ethnographical Survey of the Central India Agency") and on the Murray
Islands, in the Torres Straits (Australia). According to W. H. R. Rivers
(1907, p. 318), the interchange of children between families is very
frequent here without the peoples being able to give any explanation of
it. Nor do other social and religious institutions offer any indication
as to the origin of this custom. Rivers surmises that it has been
preserved from a social organisation in which "children were largely
common to the women of the group so far as nurture was concerned." At
any rate, this adoption _en masse_ will help civilised man to understand
that less civilised peoples have ideas about parenthood different from
those that exist among us, and also that group motherhood is not absurd.
The existence of group motherhood among primitive communities--whose
members were much more dependent on each other in the struggle for
existence than are the members of much more advanced societies--must
often have been of considerable advantage to these communities. On the
assumption of "group motherhood" it is easily explainable that children
use the same mode of address for their own sisters and brothers as for
all the other children of the group, and that all the women of equal
ages are called "mother." Hence the classificatory system of
relationship ceases to be puzzling. It becomes clear why under this
system whole groups of persons designate each other as husbands and
wives, and why the children of all the persons of these groups call each
other brothers and sisters, etc. The assumption is justified that man in
a low state of civilisation knew only group relationship; further
distinctions were derived only later from these relationships, the
present-day classificatory system arising ultimately from them. Among
the peoples where Rivers could examine this system there were
indications of a development in the direction of using it rather for the
distinction of real blood and marriage relationship than for the
distinction of social position, for which it was originally intended. A
connection between marriage regulation and the classificatory system of
relationships exists not only among the Dravidian races, but also among
the North American Indians, and certainly among other branches of the
human race. Rivers says: "The classificatory system in one form or
another is spread so widely over the world as to make it probable that
it had its origin in some universal stage of social development"; and
further he says: "The kind of society which most readily accounts for
its chief features is one characterised by a form of marriage in which
definite groups of men are the husbands of definite groups of women."
Rivers does not mean thereby institutions like the _pirauru_, but a
permanent group marriage. It may be objected against this latter
assumption that permanent (not occasional) sex communism does not
necessarily need to be connected with communism of children. It is quite
possible that monogamy and child communism may exist side by side, as,
_e.g._, among the Murray Islanders.

But even if group marriage did really exist in some places, and if the
existence of child communism would prove this, it still cannot be
asserted that it is a phase of development through which all human races
have passed. For the assumption of a parallel development of all races
is untenable. It is true the basic psychic organisation is the same for
all human beings, being due to the common descent of mankind. But owing
to the continual adaptation to changing environmental conditions, it was
not preserved, but underwent different changes. There is no ground for
the assumption that, while environmental changes brought about bodily
modifications, mental changes did not take place also, therewith leading
at the same time to differences in social culture. On the contrary, we
must rather assume that together with anthropological variations among
the races there also arose variations in social development, the
different civilisations resulting from differentiated mental
dispositions and deviating more and more from each other. Certain
elements of the original primitive civilisation have been preserved in
the various later developments, but not everywhere the same elements,
nor were the differentiations that did take place all of the same
degree. Certain fundamental conceptions may remain unchanged for long
periods, and may produce analogous phenomena in different civilisations.
Since deviations from monogamy are extremely rare among primitive
peoples, the assumption is justified that monogamy is one of the
fundamental factors of human civilisation. How could its practically
universal occurrence be explained otherwise? There can be no question of
convergence, nor has a world-wide transmission of a cultural element
that has arisen later been proved up to the present.

The opinion, first expressed by L. H. Morgan, that the classificatory
relationship system is evidence of the existence of group marriage (not
merely in the form of _pirauru_ existing at the side of monogamy), is
contradicted by the etymological meaning of the terms used by primitive
people, which are generally translated by "father," "mother,"
"grandfather," "brother," "sister," "child," etc. These collective names
show nowhere an allusion to procreation, but only to age differences:
father and mother are the "elder," the "big ones," the "grown-ups"; the
children are the "little ones," the "young ones"; brothers and sisters
are the "comrades." We often find that among the Australian negroes and
the South Sea islanders no distinction is made between father and
mother. All persons of an older generation of a horde or a totem (or of
a phratry respectively) are simply the "elder," the "big ones." If a
native wishes to indicate more clearly the sex of a person of an older
class, he must add the word "man" or "woman" (or the adjective "male" or
"female"). It often happens that grandparents and grandchildren use the
same form of address, which in no way refers to descent (Cunow). Other
facts point to the same conclusion. Where the _pirauru_ exists in
Australia, the same form of address is used for persons standing in
_pirauru_ relationship to the speaker as for members of the same age
class who have no such relationship. This could not be so if the
appellation had originated from common sexual relationship. Cunow
rightly concludes: "Sexual communities can be proved to exist here and
there among primitive peoples, but the nomenclature of the
classificatory relationships has not grown out of such group
relationships. These so-called group marriages are rather adventitious
growths, playing only a secondary _rôle_ in the history of the family."

Buschan (1912, p. 254) looks upon the pre-marital sexual freedom of
girls among many primitive peoples (most probably among the majority of
them) as a relic of communal marriage from earlier times. He assumes
that the girls had promiscuous relationships with the other sex. This,
however, is not the case. As a rule, couples meet together for a time,
and only rarely does a person have relationship with several persons at
the same time. The conditions are essentially the same as in Europe,
except that amongst "savages" a love affair going as far as intercourse
is not considered immoral. The assumption of many authors that man is
polygynous is far from being proved, at least not in the sense that the
majority of men are inclined to have relationship with several women at
the same time. It cannot, however, be disputed that after some time the
relationship between two people tends to lose its attraction, often
causing a breaking of the marriage vow.

There is a custom among many peoples that a man's widow falls to his
younger brother (or cousin)--the _levirate_. According to another
custom, a man has the right to marry the sisters of his wife. Both these
customs have been explained as being relics of a form of marriage in
which brothers married several sisters or sisters married brothers at
the same time (Frazer, II., p. 144). But it seems much more likely that
we have here before us merely a case of property rights.

Even if constancy in marriage is not the rule, especially among
primitive people, yet we must still regard the permanent living together
of one man and one woman as a state that has always prevailed amongst
human beings (Westermarck). Many of the speculations, at first sight so
learned, about the apparently intricate paths in the development of
marriage, remain merely speculations which cannot stand the test of
modern ethnological research. Heinrich Schurtz (p. 175) makes the
pertinent remark that nothing excited the hostile camps of the
sociological idealists and naturalists more than the dispute about
promiscuity in primitive times. While the one party painted with zest
the indiscriminate and irregular sex relationship of primitive races,
claiming it as an established original stage in human development, the
adherents of idealism rose in indignation against a theory that places
primitive man far below the level of the higher animals, and that leaves
the riddle unsolved how such a chaos could lead to the idea of sexual
purity and a spiritualisation of the sexual impulse. In this battle for
and against promiscuity even facts were unfortunately too often not
respected, attempts being made to disregard them at any cost. This
cannot be good for the ultimate victory of truth. Facts should not be
passed over, but should be taken into full consideration. In this
conflict of opinions the institution of _pirauru_ especially has fared
particularly badly. Some anthropologists wanted to do away with it
altogether at any price (for instance, Josef Müller); others drew
conclusions from it that are utterly unjustified. But even if this were
not so, even if the _pirauru_ could be used as a proof of previous
sexual promiscuity, it still does not follow that it was a general
custom in man, for the majority of the peoples show no trace of it.

First of all, it must be noticed that even the _pirauru_ possesses
various restrictions upon marriage with persons outside certain groups,
which alone exclude unrestrained promiscuity. Furthermore, individual
marriage, the binding force of which is undoubtedly even stronger and
closer, is well known to exist beside it. There is a good deal of
probability for the assumption of Schurtz that marriage regulations
establishing the right of several men to one wife may first have arisen
from mere friendly acts, or the original sexual licentiousness may have
developed occasionally under specially favourable circumstances into the
institution of _pirauru_, while at other places such a systematic
development did not take place. It is easily to be understood that lower
civilisations will show a looser standard of the marriage bond than
those where many interests of a rich cultural development require the
strengthening of this bond. Sexual needs may also have brought about the
origin of the _pirauru_ institutions. Thus there exist in Australia
tribes among which the loan of wives was customary owing to the scarcity
of women. There is only one step from this state of affairs to the
_pirauru_. Among many tribes complicated marriage restrictions make a
"legitimate" marriage very difficult, and this may easily lead to other
sex relationships taking the place of marriage.

It is a mistake to assume hastily that customs among primitive people
that appear strange to us must therefore be ancient and be relics of a
primitive state. Every primitive race has a long history behind it, and
it is not likely that it has remained static all the time. Primitive
people are not stationary in development; there is much change among
them in the course of generations. This applies also to customs and
habits which seem absolutely stable. External conditions may produce new
developments, or result in foreign influences. Not everything,
therefore, that is peculiar to uncivilised races of the present day must
be looked upon as primitive.

Polyandry deserves our special consideration. As a recognised social
institution it has so far been definitely established only among the
Indian peoples and castes, as well as in Tibet, on the borders of
Northern India. In exceptional cases polyandry occurs among the Eskimos
and the Asiatic Polar races. The older accounts of polyandry occurring
in Australia are not confirmed by the new ethnographical literature. The
reports about polyandry among the American Indians are also incorrect.
John Roscoe (1907, pp. 99 _et seq._) has proved its existence among the
Bahima and Baziba tribes of Central Africa, though here polyandry is not
the rule, but is only practised occasionally. If a man is poor, if he
cannot get together the number of cows required for the bride price, or
if he is unable to support a wife, he can combine with one or several of
his brothers and take a wife in common with them. It is easy to get the
women for this purpose. Furthermore, among these tribes the housewife
may be claimed by a guest, while exchange of wives also occurs.

In India polyandry is prevalent among the peoples of the Himalayan
mountains and among some Southern Indian tribes. Some cases of this
curious form of marriage are already mentioned in the ancient Indian
literature. It may be assumed, therefore, that it was more prevalent
formerly than at present. This institution was certainly never very
general nor of great importance in the life of the people of India. At
the present time it is restricted to a number of comparatively small
tribes and castes. Two forms of polyandry can be distinguished among
them, namely, the fraternal form, where several brothers or cousins have
one wife in common, and the matriarchal form, where a woman has several
husbands, not necessarily related to each other.

In Northern India polyandry is general among the Tibetans and Bhotias of
the Himalayan border districts. Here, when the oldest of several
brothers takes a wife, she has the right--but not the duty--to have
sexual relationship with the other brothers living in the same
household. If a younger brother also marries, the other still younger
brothers have the choice in which household they wish to live. The
surplus women become nuns. This system is said to be due to the poverty
of the country. The Himalayan peoples, being intent on preventing the
increase of the population and a further reduction of the means of
existence, consign many women to celibacy and childlessness. Yet at the
same time they make it possible, by this system, for the socially
privileged man to satisfy his sexual needs. The children of polyandrous
marriages belong, as a rule, legally to the oldest brother. But it also
occurs that each brother in turn, according to his age, has a child
assigned to him regardless of whether the brother concerned was on the
spot at the time of the child's conception. Sometimes the mother has the
right to name the father of each of her children.

Fraternal polyandry also exists in Cashmir and among certain Sudra
castes of the Punjab mountains. In the Punjab, however, the Rajputs and
other castes of that neighbourhood are also influenced by polyandry. The
ceremonies which take place at marriage in the Punjab bear traces of
"marriage by capture." The dwellings of the polyandrous castes of this
district consist of two rooms, one for the woman and one for the group
of brothers. In Tibet, as also among the polyandrous Southern Indians,
they have, however, mostly one room. The surplus women in the Punjab
become objects of commerce. In the native State of Bashar, for instance,
an active export trade is carried on with the surplus women, for whom
sums up to 500 rupees are given.

Among the Dyats in the Punjab, the Gudyars in the United Provinces, as
among all the Hindu castes in the mountain districts of Ambala,
polyandry existed until lately; but it is said not to do so there any
longer. In Ambala not only brothers, but also first cousins, were
considered to be husbands of the oldest brother's wife.

Further, in East India the Santal caste (2,138,000 persons in Bengal,
Bihar and Orissa) is the only community among which a similar custom
exists. Among the Santals not only have the younger brothers access to
the wife of the older brother, but the husband also may have relations
with the younger sisters of his wife. This state of affairs may perhaps
be looked upon as sexual communism among a small group. In Ladakh, too,
and in other places of Cashmir, the wife common to several brothers may
bring with her her sister into the marriage as co-partner. In the Punjab
the fraternal husbands may also marry a second and third wife.

Among Indian migratory labourers it seems to have been formerly the rule
that the brother remaining at home served as a conjugal substitute for
the husband temporarily absent. Nowadays this custom has almost

In Southern India polyandry is a recognised institution among the Toda
and Kurumba of the Nilgiri mountains, as also among a number of the
lower castes, especially on the coast of Malabar. Here polyandry and
polygyny occasionally co-exist side by side.

The polyandry among the Toda has been described in detail by W. H. R.
Rivers. The whole tribe is divided into two endogamous groups, which,
again, are split up into a number of exogamous sub-groups. The husbands
shared in common by a woman are in most cases brothers; they are rarely
other members of the same exogamous group and of the same age class.
When the husbands are brothers, there never ensue any quarrels about
access to the wife. All the brothers are reckoned as fathers of a child.
Yet it often occurs that a Toda only calls one man his father. It is
exclusively external circumstances that are here decisive; often one of
the fathers is more influential and more respected than his brothers,
and naturally the sons prefer to speak of him as their father. If only
one of the fathers is alive, the offspring always describe him as their
father. If the husbands are not real brothers, they live, like these, in
one household, but the children are allotted to single definite fathers.
That man is considered the father of a child who in the seventh month of
the mother's pregnancy has gone with her through the ceremony of the
presentation of bow and arrow (which is also customary in fraternal
polyandry). The husbands may take turns in the practice of this ceremony
at every pregnancy; it results, therefore, frequently that the first two
or three children belong to one and the same man, the other husbands
acquiring formal father-right only at the later births. If the husbands
separate and give up the common household, each one takes with him the
children belonging to him by right of the bow-and-arrow ceremony. As
everywhere else in India, polyandry has fallen into decay among the
Toda. It may happen that several men have in common several wives, or
that of a group of brothers each has his own wife. But polyandry has
remained up to the present time the prevalent form of marriage among
these hill-folk. The surplus girls used formerly to be killed without
exception; and it is certain, says Rivers, that girl infanticide is
still practised to some extent, although the Toda themselves deny this.
It must be noted that child marriage exists among the Toda.

Matriarchal polyandry, which, in contradistinction to fraternal
polyandry, goes with descent through the mother, still occurs among the
Munduvars of the Travancore plateaus, the Nayars in some parts of
Travancore and Cochin, the Western Kallan, and also among some other
Southern Indian communities. Among numerous other races having mother
descent, but not among all, relics of the former existence of
matriarchal polyandry have been established. The secular authorities,
and no less the European missions, are trying hard to exterminate this
form of marriage.

It is difficult to trace any connection between the polyandry in the
north and that in the south of India. It is most probable that this
custom was carried into Southern India by the Tibetan conquerors in
ancient times. Many Southern Indian polyandrous races, like the Toda
and the Nayar, are distinguished from their real Dravidian neighbours by
their more powerful build, lighter colouring, higher noses, etc.
Furthermore, the architecture of the Malabar temples bears traces of
Tibetan influence. The demon masks carved thereon show almost the same
faces as the Tibetan masks. Among the Kallan the tradition of northern
descent has been preserved up to the present time, and they bury their
dead with their faces turned towards the north.

Exogamy is the custom which forbids the choice of partners for marriage
within a certain group, and which has the effect of preventing near
relations from sexual intercourse. It is found very frequently among
primitive people, and is very prevalent, as Sir J. G. Frazer shows in
his book "Totemism and Exogamy." This, however, does in no way justify
the assumption that it was a general stage of civilisation of all
mankind, and that it once existed even in those places where it is not
found to-day.

Although European travellers, colonists and scientists had long been in
contact with coloured races, it was the Scotsman J. F. McLennan who
first discovered the existence of exogamy. He was led to this discovery
by the study of that peculiar marriage custom which consists in the
pretence of forcible bride capture, though the marriage of the couple
concerned has been agreed to by both families beforehand. McLennan
tried to find an explanation for this custom, and came to the conclusion
that capture of women, which only took place in pretence, must once have
been practised in reality to a large extent. In searching for facts
confirmatory of this assumption, he was struck by the fact that among
savage and barbarous people the men married women not of their own, but
of another, tribal group. He described this as "exogamy," in
contradistinction to "endogamy," by which marriage partners are
restricted in their choice to their own group. In a tribe or other
social group both sexual arrangements may exist side by side, in such a
manner that the tribe is closely endogamous and is divided into several
exogamous groups.

The theory put forward by McLennan as an explanation of the origin of
exogamy is very simple and on superficial examination very convincing.
He assumed that exogamy arose from a scarcity of women, which forced men
to obtain wives by capture from other groups and thus gradually led to a
general preference for strange women. The cause of this assumed scarcity
of women was considered to be the infanticide of new-born females, which
was carried on systematically, for savage people foresaw that in the
struggle for existence it would be a hindrance to have a great number of
women, who could take no share in the battle with enemies, and who
presumably would contribute less to the food supply than the men.

H. Cunow also traces back the origin of exogamy to the scarcity of
women and wife capture. He starts from the assumption that among the
Australian and other uncivilised races the number of persons in a horde
is very limited. "If one assumes that the number of members of a horde
is sixty, the youngest class would contain, according to present-day
reckoning, about twenty-five persons, the middle class twenty, and the
oldest class about fifteen persons. In the middle class there would,
therefore, be only about ten women. Among these a young man entering the
middle class would often not find a single woman that he could take for
his wife, for, after pairing marriage had become general, the few
existing women had already found a spouse; they had already been
disposed of. There was nothing left for the young man but to capture a
woman from a strange horde as soon as possible, or to try to persuade a
comrade of the same age class to let him share in his marriage
relationship on the understanding that his hunting bag would contribute
towards the 'household of the three.' This multiple conjugal partnership
is customary among most of the Australian tribes even to-day." To this
it must be added that the man needs to show much less consideration for
a captured strange woman than for one of his own tribe, who would run
away if badly treated. Nor can the young man remain single, for he
himself would then have to drag his property about, which would hinder
him in the hunt and expose him to the ridicule of his companions. (In
reality there are many unmarried men even in Australia.) The search for
wives led ultimately, according to Cunow, to wife capture and exogamy.

Infanticide, which McLennan assumes, is at present a rare exception
among primitive people. Almost all explorers praise their great love for
children, and even malformed children are not always killed. Even where
infanticide does occur, the sex of the child is certainly not the factor
that decides whether it is to be killed or not. The assumption that
scarcity of women is brought about by girl infanticide is not correct.
The female sex is, indeed, in the minority among uncivilised natives
where they have been counted; but the excess of men is only small.
Mutual capture of women could not alter this disparity, for it is
unlikely that some tribes permitted the capture of their women without
retaliation. Besides, even among primitive people men are careful in
risking their lives. Capture of women is, therefore, nowhere the rule,
but is everywhere the exception. Had it been the rule anywhere, the
continuous fighting would have led to the extermination of the tribes in
question. Frazer is right when he says: "If women are scarce in a group,
many men will prefer to remain single rather than expose themselves to
the danger of death by trying to capture women from their neighbours."
This is what really happened among many tribes of the Australian natives
who lived on a friendly footing with each other. It even happens that
the old men who claim the women expressly forbid the young men to steal
women from other tribes, because that will lead to bloodshed. Further,
scarcity of women is most likely overcome, as previously mentioned, by
several men's sharing one wife, which arrangement, unlike the capture of
women, avoids arousing the hostility of neighbours. Among peaceable
tribes, therefore, a numerical preponderance of men results not in
exogamy, but in polyandry. But admitting that a warlike tribe has not
sufficient women and therefore captures them from their neighbours, it
is still unexplainable why the men should altogether avoid sexual
relationship with their own women, few as they are, and have no desire
for them whatsoever. This will certainly not be the result; on the
contrary, the few women obtainable without force will be all the more in

Frazer thinks that the origin of exogamy has been rightly explained by
the American ethnologist L. H. Morgan, who for many years lived among
the exogamic Indians as one of them, and thus came into direct contact
with exogamy. Morgan assumed that sexual promiscuity was general at a
very early period in the history of mankind, and that exogamy was
instituted for the deliberate purpose of preventing cohabitation between
blood relations, particularly between brothers and sisters, as was
previously customary. This struck promiscuity at the root; it removed
its worst peculiarity, and resulted at the same time in a powerful
movement towards the establishment of sexual monogamy.

Frazer, in supporting Morgan's theory, relies exclusively on the
Australian natives, who, according to him, though extremely primitive
savages, "carry out the principle of exogamy with a practical
astuteness, logical thoroughness, and precision such as no other race
shows in its marriage system."

Frazer finds that the effects of the Australian marriage class system
are in complete harmony with the deeply rooted convictions and feelings
of the natives as regards sexual intercourse, and concludes that the
successive tribal subdivisions have been brought about deliberately in
order to avoid marriage of blood relations. According to him, it is not
going too far to assert that "no other human institution bears the stamp
of deliberate purpose more clearly than the exogamous classes of the
Australians. To assume that they serve only accidentally the purpose
that they actually fulfil, and which is approved by them unreservedly,
would be to test our credulity nearly as much as if we were told that
the complicated mechanism of a watch has originated without human

Nearly all Australian tribes have the system of division into marriage
classes. Every tribe consists of two main groups (called in
ethnographical literature phratries or moieties), and each of these
groups is again divided into two, four, or eight classes. Sometimes the
phratries and classes have special names, but not always. In the latter
case it may be assumed that the names have been lost, while the division
of the tribes into marriage groups remains. These groups are strictly
exogamous. In no case are the members of the main group of the tribe
(phratry) or of the same class allowed to marry each other. Only members
of two given classes may marry, and their children are again assigned to
given classes. Among some of the tribes there exists paternal descent,
among others maternal descent. Which of the two modes of descent
prevails in Australia can hardly be determined. Among some tribes
property is inherited in the female line. Other rights of the female sex
connected with mother descent are unknown. An example of the Australian
marriage classes is given here, namely, that of the tribe Warrai, who
live on the railway line running from Port Darwin to the south. Among
this tribe indirect paternal descent is the custom; _i.e._, the children
belong to the main group (phratry) of the father, but to other marriage

      Phratry I.   |   Phratry II.
      Adshumbitch  |   Apungerti
     *Aldshambitch |  *Alpungerti
      Apularan     |   Auinmitch
     *Alpularan    |  *Alinmitch

The female marriage classes are marked with an asterisk.

Each member of a certain male marriage class may only marry a member of
a marriage class of the other phratry, placed opposite in the table.
Thus, for instance, an Adshumbitch man marries an Alpungerti woman, an
Apungerti man an Aldshambitch woman, etc. The children always belong to
the phratry of the men, but to another marriage group of theirs. Thus,
for instance, the boys born from the union of an Adshumbitch man with an
Apungerti woman belong to the Apularan class, and the girls born of this
marriage belong to the Alpularan class. Further complications arise in
consequence of the totem system, which exists among most of the
Australian tribes. As the local groups of a tribe are numerically weak
and consist of members of all marriage classes, the choice of mates is
restricted to quite a small number of persons, being further limited to
a great extent by the marriage of girls in childhood. But even when
adults marry, they can rarely decide according to their own will, but
are dependent on the circumstances of relationship. On the northern
coast of Australia the marriage class system does not exist, but exogamy
exists there, the members of certain local groups not being allowed to
marry each other. The now extinct tribes in the south-east of the
continent also had no marriage class system.

But it still remains a mystery how it was found out that marriages of
blood relations were harmful. One objection is, that some of the
Australians are ignorant of the process of generation; they do not even
know that pregnancy is the result of cohabitation. It is also doubtful
whether the Australian natives can in any case be considered as typical
representatives of primitive man. If this were so, all mankind would
still be in a very low state of civilisation, for the Australians appear
incapable of progressive development. And further, if exogamous classes
were purposely instituted in order to prevent cohabitation between blood
relations, how is it that other people also are excluded from sexual
intercourse who are not blood relations? Frazer's comparison with a
watch is also badly chosen. We must take into consideration the
intellectual stage of development of mankind at the time when exogamy
arose, and when the watch was invented. Even if we do not admit that
exogamy was instituted with a conscious purpose, this does not by any
means, as Frazer says, do away altogether with will and purpose from the
history of human institutions. There is no need to doubt that the
Australian system of exogamy became more and more complicated through
the deliberate action of man.

Frazer himself assumes that the Australians had an aversion to
cohabitation between brothers and sisters even before it was definitely
fixed by binding rules. Sexual aversion between parents and children,
according to him, is universal among them, whether there be in vogue the
two-, four- or eight-classes system, _i.e._, whether incest between
parents and children is expressly forbidden or not. "In democratic
societies like those of the Australian natives, the law sanctions only
thoughts that have already been long the mental possession of the
majority of people." Hence the agreement of the marriage class system
with the feelings of the people becomes explainable.

Since the aversion to sexual intercourse within certain classes was
already in existence before the formation of marriage classes, the
classificatory system being merely the formal expression of it, we have
to find some explanation for it. For the appearance of this aversion
marks the real beginning of exogamy, which cannot be explained by the
complicated system of the Australians. It is possible that the sexual
aversion towards blood relations is already a characteristic trait of
the human race before its truly human development, and that it may have
to be looked upon as an instinct. This is the opinion of F. Hellwald,
which has also been upheld of late by A. E. Crawley. It is assumed that
among brothers and sisters, as among boys and girls who have lived
together from childhood, the pairing instinct generally remains in
abeyance, because the conditions are wanting that are likely to awaken
this instinct. Courting the favour of a person of the other sex is the
process that gradually brings about the sexual excitement necessary for
union. The possibility of sexual excitation between people who have
lived together from childhood is decidedly lessened through habituation,
if not completely inhibited. In this respect brothers and sisters reach
already at puberty that state towards each other to which people married
for a long time approach gradually, through the constant living
together and the exhaustion of youthful passion. If brother and sister
sometimes show passion for each other, it is generally the result of the
same circumstances that are necessary to arouse it under normal
conditions, _e.g._, a long separation. As the absence of sexual
attraction between brother and sister who have grown up together is a
natural thing, it is strange that cohabitation between them should have
to be specially prohibited and enforced by strict measures among
primitive peoples. The explanation, according to Crawley, is simple. "In
many departments of primitive life we find a naïve desire to, as it
were, assist Nature, to affirm what is normal and later to confirm it by
the categorical imperative of custom and law. This tendency still
flourishes in our civilised communities, and, as the worship of the
normal, is often a deadly foe to the abnormal and eccentric, and too
often paralyses originality. Laws thus made, and with this object, have
some justification, and their existence may be due, in some small
measure, to the fact that abnormality increases _pari passu_ with
culture. But it is a grave error to ascribe a prevalence of incest to
the period preceding the law against it." All the facts tend to show
that the most primitive people procured their wives by friendly
arrangements. From this standpoint it would be most practical if each
tribe were divided into two groups, the men of each group marrying wives
from the other group. This state of affairs is actually to be found
among many uncivilised peoples that are divided into two exogamous
groups or phratries. It has still to be discovered how this bipartition
arose. It is unthinkable that a division into two groups was
intentionally brought about by the members of the groups for the purpose
of preventing marriages between blood relations of a certain grade. No
tribe has ever been divided in such a manner; the division must
therefore be explainable in another way. The phratries are large
families (in the broad sense of the word); they descend from families
(in the narrower sense of the word), reciprocally supplying each other
with wives. The names of the phratries are generally unintelligible, in
contradistinction to the names of the totem groups, and therefore most
probably older. The totem groups, of which a phratry consists, are to be
considered as younger branches of the original double family, which have
arisen through wives being taken from other groups whose children again
received the name of their mothers. If it should be asked why the
members of two phratries should constantly intermarry, it should be
pointed out that among communities in the lowest stage of civilisation
women are not easily procurable, and the force of external circumstances
would favour the unions just mentioned (Crawley, pp. 54 _et seq._).

A biological explanation of the origin of exogamy is given by Herbert
Risley. Without basing it on the assumption that primitive people have a
knowledge of the harmfulness of incest, he gives the following
exposition: "Exogamy can be brought under the law of natural selection
without extending it too far. We know that among individuals or groups
of individuals there exists a tendency to vary in their instincts, and
that useful variations (such as are suitable to the conditions of life)
tend to be preserved and transmitted by inheritance. Let us assume now
that in a primitive community the men varied in the direction towards
choosing wives from another community, and that this infusion of fresh
blood was advantageous. The original instinct would then be strengthened
by inheritance, and sexual selection would be added in the course of
time. For an exogamous group would have a greater choice of women than
an endogamous one, ... and in the competition for women the best would
fall to the strongest and most warlike men. In this way the strengthened
exogamous groups would in time exterminate the endogamous neighbours, or
at least take away their best marriageable maidens. Exogamy would spread
partly through imitation, partly through the extermination of endogamous
groups. The fact that we cannot explain how it came about that the
people varied in the aforesaid direction is not fatal to this
hypothesis. We do not doubt natural selection in the case of animals
because we cannot give the exact cause of a favourable variation."

E. Westermarck holds a similar theory about the cessation of incest. He
thinks that "among the ancestors of man, as among other animals, there
was, no doubt, a time when blood relationship was no bar to sexual
intercourse. But variations here, as elsewhere, would naturally present
themselves; and those of our ancestors who avoided in-and-in breeding
would survive, while the others would gradually decay and ultimately
perish. Thus an instinct would be developed which would be powerful
enough, as a rule, to prevent injurious unions. Of course it would
display itself simply as an aversion on the part of individuals to union
with others with whom they lived; but these, as a matter of fact, would
be blood relations, so that the result would be the survival of the
fittest. Whether man inherited the feeling from the predecessors from
whom he sprang, or whether it was developed after the evolution of
distinctly human qualities, we do not know. It must necessarily have
arisen at a stage when family ties became comparatively strong, and
children remained with their parents until the age of puberty or even

It may be surmised that the impulse towards the appearance of the
exogamous tendency arose through economic progress, which led to an
increase of the means of existence, and this in its turn produced a more
friendly relationship between neighbouring groups that previously had
quarrelled about food. The men thus came into contact with strange
women, and this awakened a heightened sexual feeling, in other words the
instinct which is said to have led to the avoidance of incest. Thus
among the peoples on a very low economic level (_e.g._, the Pigmies) no
laws for the prevention of incest are to be found, a fact that may be
held to confirm this idea. Primitive people could in any case not
understand the harmfulness of incest, while it is certain that strange
members of the opposite sex could exert a stronger attraction, and thus
render the sexual impulse permanent, which previously was periodical, as
among the animals.



The slow increase in the population of primitive peoples, which is also
to be noticed wherever the conditions of life have not been influenced
by European settlers and missionaries, is chiefly due to the want of
proper midwifery, and no less to the frequent practice of abortion. The
opinion is often met with, particularly in older writings, that among
primitive people childbirth is extremely easy. But more extended
knowledge has shown how dangerous childbirth is for the primitive mother
also. Though childbirth is a natural physiological process, it does not
always pass off quite without danger, no less under natural conditions
than among highly civilised peoples. Primitive people know full well
that the hour of childbirth is the hardest time in a woman's life, but
not all have progressed far enough in the knowledge of physiology to be
able to render efficient assistance to the woman in labour. Some people
leave her, incredible as it may seem to us, without any assistance,
either through indifference to life or through a superstitious fear of
the mystery of life. Such cases are, however, very rare exceptions.
Sometimes means are used for furthering the birth that are not only
inefficacious, but actually injurious. Often, however, delivery is
actually furthered by the assistance given. Internal manipulation is
seldom resorted to, and operations are still more rare. R. W. Felkin's
report about the operation of Cæsarian section among the negroes in
Uganda seems to be unique. Ploss and Bartels have compiled a great deal
of information about childbirth among primitive people. We add here some
examples from the later literature.

Feticide occurs most likely among all primitive peoples to a larger or
lesser degree, and injures them accordingly. The reasons are the same as
with us: inability to support a large number of children or aversion to
the worries of child-rearing. Unmarried girls procure abortion usually
because the child might be a hindrance to a future marriage,
particularly when the father of the expected child jilts the mother.
Still pre-marital births are not always considered a disgrace among
primitive people. The abortives resorted to are generally inefficacious,
though some native peoples have discovered really effective remedies.
Külz (p. 18) says quite rightly, "It is to be assumed that woman
everywhere, even in a low state of civilisation, has her attention
directed to the occurrence of involuntary premature birth by often
recurring effective causes. Such external causes are not very remote
from the mechanically and medically produced abortions. We only need to
think of the fact that among all primitive peoples the chief work in the
fields falls to the women, and that it is just heavy labour that has the
tendency to interrupt pregnancy. It required only some little thought
to discover this frequently observed coincidence and to learn from the
involuntary interruption of pregnancy how to produce it voluntarily....
In the same way the production of abortions by poisons can easily be
derived from a rational application of chance remedies producing
corresponding involuntary effects.... Just as primitive man discovered
many medicinal plants by repeatedly partaking of them, so he also found
out the specific use of some of these for feticide. This could happen
the more readily as among abortive remedies in use there were many that
in a way served him as food and condiment, such as nutmeg, or the papaia
kernels, or others that he used at the same time for poisoning fish, or
others, again, like the aperient _Cajanus indicus_, which in moderate
doses acts medicinally, in large doses, however, as an abortive."

The use of poisons and mechanical feticide not only brings about
limitation of offspring, but often results in the death of the mother.
Where they are very prevalent they contribute greatly to the scarcity of
women, with all its attendant biological disadvantages. The contact of
primitive people with Europeans generally increases the frequency of
abortions. This is due partly to the desire for hiding the results of
sexual intercourse with strangers, partly to the incitement to loose
living which the acquaintance with European culture sometimes brings

How defective the state of midwifery is among primitive people is shown
by many accounts in newer works of ethnology. Thus the missionary Endle
writes (p. 41): "The native tribes of Assam and Burma have no special
midwives. Every old woman may perform the duties of a midwife, and she
does it without payment. There is no information about the treatment of
the woman during parturition. The navel cord is generally cut off with a
bamboo knife. The Katshári do not perform this with one cut, but make
five cuts in the case of a boy and seven for a girl. The mother is
considered unclean for several weeks after her confinement. This is also
the case among many races of Southern and Eastern Asia, and in other
parts of the world. Isolation even before the confinement sometimes
occurs, and is due to the belief that women in this state are unclean."

Among the savage tribes of Formosa the birth of a child passes off so
lightly that the lying-in woman is able to go on with her work on the
following day. She only avoids heavy labour in the field for a month.
After the birth certain superstitious ceremonies, according to old
customs, are performed, such as driving away the devil, etc. Among many
tribes twins are held to be a misfortune, and the second child is
therefore killed. This also occurs frequently in other places (W.
Müller, p. 230).

Among the Igorots of Bontoc (Philippines) the woman works in the field
almost to the hour of her confinement. There are no festivities or
ceremonies connected with the birth. The father of the child, if he is
the husband of the woman, is present, as is also the woman's mother, but
no one else. The parturient woman bends her body strongly forward,
holding firmly on to the beam of the house, or she takes up an
animal-like position, so that hands and feet are on the ground.
Medicines and baths are not resorted to for hastening the labour pains,
but the people present massage the abdomen of the labouring woman. About
ten days after the birth her body is washed with warm water. There is no
special diet, but the mother refrains from field work for two or three
months. If twins are born, it is believed to be due to an evil spirit
who has had connection with the woman whilst she was asleep. No blame is
attached to the mother, but the quieter of the children (and when both
children are quiet, the longer one) is buried alive near the house
immediately after birth. Abortion is practised by married women as well
as by single girls, if for some reason the child is not wanted. The
mother warns her unmarried daughter against abortion, telling her that a
girl who produces abortion will not get a faithful husband, but will
become the common partner of several men. The foetus is driven off in
the second month of pregnancy by hot baths and massage. Abortion is not
considered a disgrace (Jenks).

Among the Kayan of Borneo there are everywhere older women who serve as
midwives. One of them is called in good time to the pregnant woman. She
examines her abdomen from time to time, and pretends to be able to give
the child the right position. She hangs some magical remedies about the
living room, and applies various remedies externally. The pregnant woman
follows her usual occupation until the labour pains commence. Then the
midwife and other old relatives or friends assist her. The husband may
also remain in the room, but he is prevented by a screen from seeing the
parturient woman, who gets hold tightly of a cloth hung over or in front
of her. The pains are generally of short duration, rarely lasting more
than two or three hours. In order to prevent the rising of the child,
the women bind a cloth tightly round the abdomen of the parturient
woman, and two of them press firmly on the womb on either side. After
the delivery of the child the navel cord is cut with a bamboo knife. If
the after-birth does not follow soon, the women become anxious; two of
them lift up the patient, and if that has no result, the navel cord is
fastened to an axe in order to prevent it from re-entering the body, and
presumably also to hasten the delivery of the after-birth. Internal
manipulations are not resorted to. The after-birth is buried. If the
child is born with a caul, the caul is dried, pounded into powder, and
used in later years as medicine for the child. If the labour pains are
exceptionally severe or long-lasting, or if an accident happens, the
news travels rapidly. Everybody is overcome by fear, as the death of a
parturient woman is particularly dreaded. The men and the boys take
flight. If death actually ensues, most of the men remain in hiding for
some time, and the corpse is quickly buried by old men and women who are
least afraid of death.

The pregnant women of the Punan of Borneo continue with their usual work
until the arrival of labour pains, and they resume it immediately after
the confinement. To assist delivery the body is tightly bound above the
womb. Nothing further is known about special help (Hose and McDougall,
II., pp. 154, 185).

The Papua women are said to give birth easily, as a rule, but difficult
deliveries and fatal cases do occur exceptionally. The custom exists in
various places for the mother to throw the after-birth into the river or
the sea after confinement (Williamson, p. 178; Seligmann, p. 85). Of the
Mafulu Williamson says that when the after-birth is thrown into the
river the mother gives the new-born child some water to drink. If the
child partakes of it, it is considered a good omen; otherwise the child
is believed not to be viable and is drowned. Williamson thinks that the
purpose of this custom is to enable the mother to choose whether she
wishes to keep the child alive or not. It also may happen that a
childless woman accompanies the mother to the river and there adopts the
child. Wilful abortion also occurs very often, not only in single girls,
but also in married women, who thus keep their families small.

Among the Barriai in New Pomerania the woman is confined whilst sitting
on a log of wood, being massaged from above downwards by an older woman.
The husband is not allowed to be present. The birth generally passes off
quite easily. The navel cord is cut off with an obsidian knife. The
parents may not eat pork and certain kinds of fish until the child has
begun to walk. Disregard of this prohibition is believed to bring about
the death of the child. The parents abstain also during this time from
sexual intercourse. Abortives do not seem to be known, though
miscarriages sometimes occur through the rough treatment of pregnant
women by men (Friederici, p. 89). In Polynesia abortion is generally
produced by women professionally. This is brought about by the use of
certain foods or drinks, by the application of mechanical means, etc.
How widespread feticide is in Melanesia can be seen from a statement of
Parkinson, according to whom in New Mecklenburg quite young girls make
no secret of having produced abortion three or four times. Among the
Jabim (Finschhafen) the mothers present their daughters with abortives
when they get married (Buschan, I., p. 62).

On the eastern islands of the Torres Straits (Australia) the women chew
as a prevention of pregnancy the leaves of Callicarpa, or of a Eugenia
species called _sobe_, also the leaves of a large shrub called _bok_;
but these remedies are inefficacious. Medicines and mechanical methods
are used for abortion. Among the former are the leaves of the
convolvulus, of Clerodendron, _Pouzolzia microphylla_, _Macaranga
tanarius_, _Terminala catappa_, Eugenia, _Hibiscus tiliaceus_, and
Callicarpa. If these do not help, the abdomen is beaten with large
stones, with a rope or twigs or a wand, or a heavy load is put on it.
Sometimes the woman leans with her back against a tree, and two men
grasp a wand and press it against her abdomen, so as to bring about the
delivery of the foetus. This often results in the death of the mother.

On the Easter Island, in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, there were several
men with a knowledge of midwifery, but recently only one of them has
survived. Nowadays older women act as midwives. Walter Knoche writes
(1912, pp. 659 _et seq._): "The birth takes place either in the open or
in the house, the woman standing with legs spread out, or recently in a
sitting position. The accoucheur stands behind the parturient woman,
embracing her abdomen. The thumbs are spread out, and touch each other
in a horizontal position somewhat above the navel, while the remainder
of the hand is turned diagonally downwards. In this way massage is
applied by a slow, rhythmical, strong and kneading movement vertically
from above downwards. When the birth is sufficiently advanced, the child
is drawn out; the assistant bites off the navel cord (among some
Brazilian Indian tribes the husband does this, but on the Easter Island
he takes no part in the delivery); then a knot is made a few centimetres
from the navel. The after-birth is not specially dealt with; it is
buried. The navel cord, however, is placed in a calabash, which is
buried or put under a rock. After the event the lying-in woman lies down
upon a mat in the house, and warm, flat, fairly heavy stones are applied
to the abdomen. Perhaps this is the reason why even women who have had
difficult confinements still preserve a good figure. The infant remains
at the mother's breast for about a year." Knoche also heard that the
women sometimes pass a piece of an alga into the vulva right up to the
womb before intercourse with a stranger, believing this method to be a
very safe one. It could, unfortunately, not be ascertained whether this
precaution was formerly, as seems likely, resorted to generally in order
to limit the number of children, or whether its use was only intended to
keep the tribe untainted by foreign blood. The latter assumption is
contradicted by the fact that "the Easter Island women have children
from strangers living for some time on the Easter Island, and that
nowadays the use of contraceptives in the case of strangers who come and
go quickly may simply be due to the circumstance that at the birth of a
child there would be no man to support it. It is most probable that the
use of preventives had its origin in Malthusian principles. The little
island, whose population has been variously estimated by travellers of
the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century at a few
thousand, must herewith have reached its maximum number of inhabitants,
which could of necessity not be exceeded. Deaths and births had
therefore to balance. This employment of contraceptives in Polynesia is
unique, and it may be truly reckoned as a sign of a higher civilisation,
together with other facts, such as the existence of a script, of stone
houses and of large stone idols, the Moai, which have made this lonely
little island so famous. On the other Oceanic Islands, as, for instance,
on the westward-situated Tahiti, infanticide, committed by the mother as
many as ten times in succession, served to limit the number of children,
either on account of economy or for reasons of convenience.
Contraceptives are otherwise unknown in Oceania."

Of the Jao in East Africa Karl Weule relates (p. 61): "During the
delivery the parturient woman lies upon her back on a mat on the floor
of the hut. The older children and the husband are not allowed to be
present, but a number of older women are there, amongst whom there is
always a near relative of the husband, who takes special note of any
evidence of extra-marital intercourse given by the parturient woman. It
is the chief business of the midwives to submit the woman to a very
strict _questionnaire_: 'How many men have you had, three, or four, or
even more? Your child will not come until you have mentioned the right
father. Yes, you will die, if you do not tell us how many men you have
had.' Such speeches are hurled at the woman from all sides. No
mechanical help is given her. She rolls about in pain, under great
bodily and mental torture, and shrieks and cries until all is over. The
navel cord is cut off by an old woman. Ancient instruments, such as are
used by the East African Bantu tribes, are unknown among the Jao. The
cutting of the navel cord seems to be performed clumsily, for umbilical
rupture, which has become an ideal of beauty in many places in Eastern
Africa, is here frequent. The after-birth and the navel cord are buried,
if possible without a witness. They are considered effective magical
remedies. The new-born child is washed and then wrapped in a cloth or a
piece of bark fabric. A real lying-in is not kept up; the mother gets up
again the same or the following day. Sex intercourse can only be resumed
again with the permission of the village elder. It is only given when
the child can sit up, or when it is six or seven months old. Children
are welcome; twins are no less joyfully received. But infanticide is
said to occur. If, however, children are not wanted, married women as
well as girls resort to abortion. Plant juices are generally used for
this purpose, though sometimes mechanical means are resorted to.
Abortion is in no way considered reprehensible. In order to prevent
conception, the woman puts herself into communication with a _fundi_,
who understands something of making knots. The _fundi_ goes into the
wood, seeks out two different barks, and twists them together into a
cord. Into the cord he rubs the yolk of an egg, for to the Jao the curse
of infertility abides in the egg. He knots into the cord three knots,
saying at the same time, 'You tree are called thus and thus, and you
thus; but you egg, you become a living animal. But now I do not want
anything living.' He then twists the final knot. This cord is worn by
the woman round her body. Boots are also placed under her head at night
to prevent conception. If the woman wishes to become pregnant again, she
needs only to untie the knots in the cord, to put it into water, and
then drink the water. Afterwards the cord is thrown away."

Among the Makua, on the Makonda plateau in East Africa, at the first
sign of labour pains the woman lies down upon her back on a mat in the
house. A cloth is put under her back by the helping women, which is
drawn tightly and pulled up when the pains become stronger. After the
birth the navel cord is cut, not with a knife, but with a splinter from
a millet stalk. Here, as in other phases in the life of man, an ancient
implement has survived for sacred purposes long after the period of its
common use. The navel cord is not tied, but dries off. The removed part
is buried. The lying-in woman remains at home three or four days.

Among the Masai an old woman is always called in as midwife. If the
birth goes on normally, no superstitious or useless operations are
undertaken (Merker, pp. 189 _et seq._). Should an increase of labour
pains appear necessary, the parturient woman is led round by the women
for a few steps, and if this does not produce the desired result light
massage is applied. Only when these remedies prove to be inefficacious
an extreme step is taken: the labouring woman is slowly lifted up by her
feet by several women until her body hangs perpendicularly and her head
touches the ground, whereupon the midwife massages the body in the
direction of the navel. Medicaments are seldom used for hastening the
delivery. Internal manual or operative manipulations do not seem to be
practised anywhere. In the case of a narrow pelvis preventing birth, no
help is available; mother and child perish. The confinement takes place
on all fours or in a sitting position; in the latter case the legs and
the back are pressed against the posts of the hut. For the production of
abortion a decoction of dried goat dung or of _cordia quarensis_ or some
other remedy is used.

Of the Hottentots it has sometimes been reported that the women have
easy births. According to Schulze's inquiries (p. 218), this is not
always the case. The birth takes place in the side position. During very
difficult births the women attempt to widen the vulva of the parturient
woman. If that does not help, the perineum is deliberately torn up to
the anus. No attempt is made to cure the perineal tear, for the belief
exists that it would hinder the passage of the next child. All
manipulations are carried out beneath the skin rug under which the woman
lies. The navel cord is cut without delay; no one troubles about the
delivery of the after-birth. The woman resumes her occupation generally
on the seventh or eighth day. Feticide is not unusual among the
Hottentots. A hot decoction of badger urine, drunk, if necessary, for
several days in succession, is considered an effective abortive remedy.
The procedure itself is characteristically called "drinking and falling"
(Schulze, p. 320).

Among the Uti-Krag Indians of the Rio Doce (Espirito Santo, Brazil) the
woman goes through the labour alone. She disappears in the bush, and
herself bites off the navel cord; after the delivery she goes to the
nearest stream to wash herself and the child, and rejoins her tribe
immediately (Walter Knoche, 1913, p. 397).

Among the Indians of the Aiary, when a woman is taken with labour pains
all the men leave their house, which is common to several families. The
woman lies in her hammock in her part of the house, which is securely
closed by a lattice railing. All the women remain with her and help at
the birth. The navel cord and after-birth are buried immediately on the
spot. After the birth the mother and the child remain strictly secluded
for five days. The husband remains in the house during the lying-in
period, but there is no real _couvade_ (the male lying-in custom).

The women of the Kobéua Indians give birth in the common family house,
or in an outlying hut, or even in the wood, with the assistance of all
married women, who first paint their faces red for the festive occasion.
The navel cord is cut off by the husband's mother with a blade of
scleria grass, and is immediately buried, together with the
after-birth. Of twins the second born is killed, or the female if they
are of different sexes. After the birth, the witch doctor performs
exorcism. The parents keep up a five days' lying-in, and eight days
after the birth a drinking feast is held (Koch-Grünberg, I., p. 182;
II., p. 146).

Among the Bakairi of Brazil, according to Karl von den Steinen (p. 334),
abortion is said to occur frequently. The women are afraid of the
confinement. They prepare for it by drinking tea, and mechanical
measures are also resorted to. The women are delivered on the floor in a
kneeling position, holding firmly to a post. The hammocks must not be
soiled. Women who have had experience declared with emphasis, and showed
by pantomime, that the pains were great. But they soon get up and go to
work, the husband going through the famous _couvade_ (the man's
lying-in), keeping strict diet, not touching his weapons and passing the
greatest part of his time in his hammock. He only leaves the house to
satisfy his physical needs, and lives completely on a thin _pogu_,
manioc cake crumbled into water. There exists the belief that anything
else might injure the child, as if the child itself ate meat, fish or
fruit. The _couvade_ only ends when the remainder of the navel cord
falls off.

Among the Bororo, according to the same author (p. 503), the woman is
delivered in the wood. The father cuts the navel cord with a bamboo
splinter, and ties it with a thread. For two days the parents do not
eat anything, and on the third day they may only partake of some warm
water. If the man were to eat he and the child would become ill. The
after-birth is buried in the wood. The woman is not allowed to bathe
until the reappearance of menstruation; but then, as generally after
menstruation, she does it frequently. Abortion by the help of internal
means is said to be frequent, especially among the Ranchao women. If the
mother wishes to stop suckling, they squeeze the breasts out, and "dry
the milk over the fire, whereupon it keeps away." Medicine for sick
children, which the chemist had prepared, was swallowed by the parents,
as among the Bakairi.

Among the Paressi the woman is confined in a kneeling position, being
held by her mother under her breast. The _couvade_ is also customary
among them.



The mentality of the different branches of mankind varies a great deal.
A good example of this is the fact that there are peoples who do not
know the connection between cohabitation and conception. There are other
tribes, again, who, as we have reason to assume, did not possess this
knowledge previously. In fact, Ferdinand von Reitzenstein thinks that
there was a time when the connection between cohabitation and pregnancy
was unknown to all mankind, and he adduces examples which show that
traces of such a state are to be found in the legends and customs of
many peoples. And, says von Reitzenstein, we need hardly be surprised at
this ignorance of the generative process when we consider that "it is
only since the days of Swammerdam, who died in 1685, that we know that
both egg and spermatozoon have to come together for fertilisation, and
only since Du Barry (1850) that we know that the spermatozoon must
penetrate the egg." The belief in supernatural conception has been
preserved, not only in the Christian Churches, but also in the myths of
the gods in most religions. Originally man could not conclude from the
mere appearance of a pregnant woman that the cohabitation which had
occurred months ago was the cause of her condition. Primitive people do
not bring into causal connection phenomena separated by wide intervals.

Von Reitzenstein writes that primitive people, who generally marry their
girls before the advent of puberty, must have been turned aside from
seeing the connection between cohabitation and pregnancy because these
girls had no children at first in spite of having sexual intercourse.
But to this it may be objected that even the lowest races must have
noticed that pregnancy only occurs after the advent of the first
menstruation. The appearance and abeyance of menstruation must have
formed a step towards the understanding of the generative process. It is
otherwise with von Reitzenstein's objection that by far the largest
number of cohabitations do not lead to pregnancy. Even among
comparatively enlightened races this observation led to the assumption
that some additional supernatural process is necessary for
fertilisation. Among the Australians, the least developed race of man,
the necessity of cohabitation for pregnancy is totally unknown. Baldwin
Spencer and Frank J. Gillen have shown (1899, pp. 123 _et seq._; 1904,
pp. 145, 606) that among the natives of Northern and Central Australia
there exists the general belief that the children penetrate into the
woman as minute spirits. These spirits are said to come from persons
that have lived once before and are reborn in this manner. The belief in
rebirth, together with the ignorance of the generative process, is very
widespread in Australia, _e.g._, among many tribes in Queensland, in
Southern Australia, in the Northern Territory and in Western Australia.
It is now too late to get reliable information in this matter from those
parts of Australia where the natives are in regular contact with whites.
Spencer takes it as certain that the belief in asexual propagation was
once general in Australia.

Among all those tribes by whom this belief has been preserved up to the
present the traditions concerning the tribal ancestors are quite
definite. Among the Arunta, for instance, who live in the district of
the transcontinental telegraph line between Charlotte Waters and the
McDonnel mountains, and among whom ignorance of the process of
generation was first discovered, there exists the tradition that in
bygone times, called _altcheringa_, the male and female ancestors of the
tribe carried spirit children about with them, which they put down in
certain places. These spirit children, like the spirits of the tribal
ancestors, themselves enter into the women and are borne by them. The
Arunta believe that at the death of a person his spirit returns to a
special tree or rock, out of which it came, and which is called
_nandcha_. It remains there until it thinks fit once more to enter into
a woman, and thus go amongst the living. All these spirits are called
_iruntarinia_. But before the first rebirth of an _iruntarinia_ there
arose another spirit from the _nandcha_, which is the double of the
_iruntarinia_, and is called _arumburinga._ This _arumburinga_ never
becomes embodied, but remains always a spirit, which accompanies its
human representative whenever inclined, and, as a rule, remains
invisible. Only specially gifted people, particularly witch doctors, can
see _arumburinga;_ they can even speak with them. Among other Australian
tribes which believe in rebirth, no belief in spirits like the
_arumburinga_ has been traced (compare B. Ankermann, "Totenkult und
Seelenglauben bei Afrikanischen Völkern," _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie,_
Jahrgang 50, pp. 89 _et seq._).

There is, however, general agreement in the belief that the ancestral
parents brought into the world the spirit children, who are continually
reborn. Among many tribes, as the Dieri and the Warramunga, it is
believed that the sex changes at every rebirth, so that the ancestral
spirit once takes the form of a male and the next time that of a female.
The conditions are such among the Australians that their ignorance of
the connection between sexual intercourse and propagation is not at all
surprising. Spencer points out that among the Australians there are no
"virgins," for as soon as a girl is sexually ripe she is given to a
particular man, with whom she has sexual intercourse right through life.
In this respect there is no difference among the native women; yet the
people see that some women have children and others none, and also that
the women with children have them at unequal intervals that have no
connection with sexual intercourse. Besides, the women know that they
are pregnant only when they feel the quickening, and that is often at a
time when they have had nothing to do with a man. Therefore they attempt
to explain the origin of children in some other manner, which is in
accordance with the very primitive mode of thought of these
unprogressive people. In this connection it may be mentioned that the
Australian mothers attribute the birth of half-castes to their having
eaten too much of the white man's flour. Therefore old Australians
accept without question as their own the half-caste children of their
wives, and treat them as such. Though the natives of Northern Queensland
know that the animals propagate sexually, they dispute this as regards
human beings, because man, in contradistinction to the animals, has a
living spirit, a soul, which could not be begotten by a material
process. A. Lang thinks that with regard to the genesis of mankind the
psychology of these primitive people has obscured their knowledge of
physiology. According to him, the idea that there is no connection
between cohabitation and generation cannot be considered as primary in

A proof of this ignorance of the fertilisation process among the
Australians is the splitting of the penis practised by them. Otherwise
these tribes, which have a scarcity of women and children, and which
desire progeny, would not perform an operation by which the semen fails
to fulfil its function in the majority of cases of cohabitation. It is
becoming more and more certain that this splitting of the penis serves
exclusively the purpose of lust, and is least of all intended as a
deliberate birth preventative (von Reitzenstein).

Evidences of the ignorance of generation are also to be found elsewhere
in cases where the above-mentioned objection of Lang does not apply. In
Melanesia the connection between cohabitation and conception seems to
have been unknown until lately. R. Thurnwald says that among the tribes
on the Bismarck and Solomon Islands visited by him this connection is
well known nowadays, but the causal relationship is not so clearly
conceived as by our psychologically trained physicians. As a natural
phenomenon conception sometimes occurs and sometimes not. Intentional
and real forgetting, inexact calculation of time, and the strangeness of
men towards women, who are held as inferiors, all make it appear
logically probable that conception can take place without cohabitation.
To this must be added the weirdness of the whole process, which is
therefore given a mysterious interpretation, and also that mode of
thought which connects the young product with the place where it is
found, with the fruits of a plant, and with the young ones of a bird,
etc. Codrington reports the same conditions among the Banks Islanders.

Many tribes of Central Borneo, being mentally and economically far above
the Australian natives, assume that pregnancy only lasts four or five
months, namely, as long as it is recognised externally in the woman,
and that the child enters the body of the woman shortly before the sign
of pregnancy. These tribes of Borneo also do not know that the testicles
are necessary for propagation (Nieuwenhuis, p. 144).

In Africa it has been established, at least of the Baganda, that they
believe in the possibility of conception without cohabitation.
Conceptional totemism, the assumption of impregnation by the animals
venerated as totems, which exists among the Bakalai in the Congo region,
points to a similar belief. Conceptional totemism also exists among the
Indian tribes of North-western America (Frazer, Vol. II., pp. 506, 507,
and 611, 612).

Among the ancient Mexicans there existed, according to von Reitzenstein,
the belief that the children come from a supernal habitation, the flower
land, to enter into the mother. Various objects were thought to carry
the foetal germs, especially shuttlecocks and green jewels. For this
reason these were placed on the mat for the Mexican bridal pair after
the marriage ceremony. The rattle club is perhaps also considered as the
bearer of fertility. In India various trees play a _rôle_ in
fertilisation ideas.

Noteworthy is the belief found in various places that only the
nourishment of the child is supplied by the mother before birth, while
the germ of the new being comes from the father. This is the opinion of
certain tribes of South-east Australia described by Howitt and the same
belief exists among South American tribes who have the well-known
_couvade_. Karl von den Steinen writes regarding this: "One might be
tempted to explain this curious custom, which is very advantageous to
the women, by the hunting life. But even if the custom suits the women,
it is not evident why the men should have submitted to it. The father
cuts off the navel cord of the new-born child, goes to bed, looks after
the child, and fasts strictly until the rest of the navel cord falls off
(or even longer). One might consider him as the professional doctor who
also fasts like the student medicine-man, as otherwise his cure would be
endangered and the child harmed. But not only the Xingu, but many other
tribes, say that the father must not eat fish, meat, or fruit, as it
would be the same as if the child itself ate them; and there is no
reason to doubt that this is the real belief of the natives. The
medicine-man of the village is always at disposal, and he is called in
in all cases when the mother or child falls ill. The father is the
patient in so far as he feels himself one with the child. Nor is it
difficult to understand how this comes about. The native cannot very
well know anything about the egg cell and the Graafian follicle, and he
cannot know that the mother harbours elements corresponding to the
bird's egg. For the native the man is the bearer of the egg, which, to
put it clearly and concisely, he lays into the mother, and which she
hatches during pregnancy." This idea of the _couvade_ is confirmed by
linguistic peculiarities: there are the same or similar words for
"father," "testicle," "egg," and "child." The child is considered part
of the father, and therefore, as long as the child is at its weakest,
the father must keep diet, and must avoid anything that the other could
not digest. The child is considered the reproduction of the father, and
"for the sake of the helpless, unintelligent creature, representing a
miniature copy of himself, he must behave as if he were a child to whom
no harm must come. Should the child happen to die in the first days, how
could the father, with such views as he has, doubt that he is to blame,
seeing that he has eaten indigestible things, particularly as all
illnesses are due to the fault of others? What we call _pars pro toto_
prevails in all folk belief in connection with witch or healing magic,"
though it cannot be assumed "that the magic worker has a clear
conception of the 'part' with which he works. The _couvade_ proceeds
according to the same logic, only that in this case the whole stands for
the 'part.' It comes to the same whether the enemy's hair is poisoned,
and he is thus brought into a decline, or whether food is eaten which is
harmful to the child detached from one's own body, because it could not
digest it, at least not during the time when the detachment takes

Besides South America and Australia, the _couvade_ is also frequent in
Asia and Africa. Previously it existed also in South-western Europe.
Hugo Kunike, who gives a survey of the prevalence and literature of the
_couvade_, thinks that this custom arose from prohibitions which the man
was subject to in matriarchal families. The prohibitions condemned the
man to inactivity for some time after the birth, so that he took to his
hammock. There resulted an external condition which led to an analogy
with the lying-in period. There can, according to Kunike, be no question
of an imitation of the woman's lying-in, for with the South American
Indians and other primitive peoples among whom the _couvade_ is found no
lying-in of the women occurs.



Mutilations of the sex organs are performed by many primitive peoples
for religious reasons. They occur much more rarely for the purpose of
sex stimulation, as, _e.g._, the artificial lengthening of the small
labia among the Hottentots and the negro women and the slitting of the
penis among the Australians. The most frequent mutilation is the
abscission of the foreskin of the penis. Circumcision of boys is
widespread in Asia, Africa, and Australia. Among the Mohammedan tribes
of Asia and the negroes of Northern and Middle Africa it is mostly
performed with a razor. In Indonesia a sharp bamboo splinter serves as
the instrument for operation; in other places sharp stone splinters are
used. In addition to the familiar circular abscission of the foreskin,
numerous primitive peoples practise incision of the foreskin, which is
split downwards in its full length. Bleeding is stopped generally by
very simple means, either by some kind of tampon or by styptic powders.
In girls, as, for instance, on some of the Indonesian Islands, the
operation often merely consists in the abscission of a small piece of
the preputium clitoridis. Among the East African tribes, however, parts
of the mons veneris and of the large labia are removed, generally with
a dirty razor. After the removal of the labia the two wounds are made to
coalesce by letting the girl lie in a suitable position, or sometimes by
a suture, which serves the purpose of closing up the vagina. A little
tube is inserted to allow for micturition. The united parts are again
partly severed for marriage, and completely in case of confinement.
After the recovery from confinement partial occlusion is again resorted
to (Bartels, p. 271).

Among the natives of Southern Asia living under the influence of Islam
circumcision of boys is practised universally, but it is also customary
among many peoples that are quite free from Islamitic influence.

Circumcision of girls is practised by various Islamitic peoples of
Western Asia and India. The operation is performed by old women. In
Baroda and Bombay the clitoris is cut away, ostensibly in order to
lessen the sensuality of the girls. In the province of Sindo the
circumcision of girls is fairly prevalent, especially among the Pathan
and Baluchi tribes. It is performed shortly before marriage by the
barber's wife or a female servant, who uses a razor, and it is said to
make the confinement easier. Among many tribes in the North-western
border province the girls are also circumcised at the age of marriage,
and here, besides the clitoris, the small labia are also sometimes cut
away. In Baluchistan among some peoples the tip of the clitoris is
pinched off; while among others the labia are slashed, so that scars
are formed. The operation is performed partly in childhood, partly on
the bridal night; in the latter case it assures the requisite flow of
blood at the first coition. Among some tribes, in place of circumcision
or in addition to it, the hymen is torn on the bridal night (should it
still exist), and the vaginal entrance is wounded, so that bleeding is
sure to take place at cohabitation. In Sind the castes which prostitute
their women are said to practise partial infibulation for contracting
the vagina. It is reported from the Punjab that formerly men leaving
their home for a time used to close up the sex passage of the wives they
left behind.

On the Philippine Islands circumcision is frequently practised by the
non-Christian natives, but not everywhere. The Igorots of Luzon incise
the foreskin of boys from four to seven years old at the upper side of
the glans with a bamboo knife or the edge of a battle axe. They say this
is necessary in order to prevent the skin from growing longer and
longer. No other reason is now known to them for this operation.
Circumcision is practised by the Mohammedans of the Southern Philippine

Incision of the foreskin is customary on the Indonesian Islands, thus,
_e.g._, on Buru, Ceram, the Watu-Bela Islands, in the Minahassa, partly
also in the remaining North and Central Celebes, also on Ambon and
Halmaheira. Circumcision is customary on the Aru and Kei Islands, on the
Ceram Laut and Goram group, in certain parts of Central Celebes, Ambon,
etc. It is doubtful whether circumcision here is due to the influence of

Incision is practised on various islands in the Western Pacific Ocean,
according to Friederici (p. 45), for instance, on New Guinea, on the
south-east coast, among the Jabim and on the Astrolabe Bay. In wide
districts of New Guinea, however, the inhabitants are not circumcised.
On the island Umboi, between New Guinea and New Pomerania, incision is
customary, also in various places on the north coast of New Pomerania,
on the Witu Islands, some islands of the Admiralty group, etc. If
incision is performed at a very early age, the result is similar to that
of circumcision. Frequently, however, only completely mature young men
are circumcised; in such cases the cut foreskin hangs down as an ugly
brown flap. It is questionable whether this intensifies the women's
excitement. As many people as possible are circumcised, in order to have
the opportunity for a great festival. This is the result of the liking
for numbers shown by primitive people, which is to be met with
everywhere. For the operation, the person is laid on his back and held
down by relatives. The boys scream and wince at the moment of cutting;
but the adults are ashamed before the women, and take an areca nut, into
which they bite. Among the East Barriari on the north coast of New
Pomerania, the operator--a wise man, but not the priest--pushes an
oblong piece of wood under the preputium of the patient, and cuts it
from the top downward with an obsidian splinter. The custom of incision
is widespread in the New Hebrides, New Caledonia (with the exception of
the Loyalty Islands), and also in Fiji.

While with the Empress Augusta River expedition in New Guinea, A.
Roesike found the foreskin cut among a number of men. It was not a
circumcision, nor an incision of the foreskin, but a deep cut into the
glans about 1 to 1½ centimetres long, sometimes a single one, sometimes
a double one crosswise.

Among some tribes of Indonesia a mutilation is customary, which is most
likely intended to intensify the lust of the women. It consists in a
perforation of the glans or the body of the male organ, into which a
little stick is inserted. These little sticks are called _palang_,
_ampallang_, _utang_ or _kampion_, and are replaced on journeys or at
work by feather quills. Among some tribes several little sticks are
stuck through the penis. Nieuwenhuis describes this operation as
follows: "At first the glans is made bloodless by pressing it between
the two arms of a bent strip of bamboo. At each of these arms there are
openings at the required position opposite each other, through which a
sharp pointed copper pin is pressed after the glans has become less
sensitive. Formerly a pointed bamboo chip was used for this purpose. The
bamboo clamp is removed, and the pin, fastened by a cord, is kept in the
opening until the canal has healed up. Later on the copper pin
(_utang_) is replaced by another one, generally of tin, which is worn
constantly. Only during hard work or at exhausting enterprises is the
metal pin replaced by a wooden one." Exceptionally brave men have the
privilege, together with the chief, of boring a second canal, crossing
the first, into the glans. Distinguished men may, in addition, wear a
ring round the penis, which is cut from the scales of the _pangolin_,
and studded with blunt points. It may hence be concluded that the
perforation of the penis is not intended as an endurance test for the
young men, but that the pin is introduced for the heightening of sexual
excitement. Many natives assert that the insertion of a pin in the
perforated penis has the purpose of preventing pederasty, which is very
frequent among the Malays (compare Nieuwenhuis, Vol. I., p. 78; Kleiweg
de Zwaan, p. 301; Meyer, p. 878; Hose and McDougall, Vol. II., p. 170;
Buschan, 1912, p. 240).

Among the Australians the slitting of the male urethra is frequently
practised. Formerly it was believed that this custom was intended to
prevent conception. But as the Australians who are not under European
influence are ignorant of the process of generation, this cannot be its
meaning. The operation is generally performed in boyhood or early youth,
but even adult men undergo it. Where this operation on the urethra is
customary, the hymen of the girls is cut, the cut often going through
the perineum. Many tribes practise simple circumcision. Among the
Australian tribe Worgait, for instance, certain relatives decide about
the circumcision of the boys. After a previous elaborate ceremonial the
boy who is to be circumcised is laid on the backs of three men lying on
the ground; another man sits on his chest, one holds his legs apart, and
the sixth performs the operation by drawing the foreskin forward and
cutting it off with a sharp splinter of stone. The group is hidden from
the view of the women by a screen made of pieces of bark. Afterwards the
youth is instructed by old men how he must behave as a man, and he is
informed about the matters kept secret from women. He remains for
another two months under the supervision of two sons of his maternal
uncle, and has further to go through a number of ceremonies. Other
tribes of the Australian North Territory have similar customs.

Circumcision among the Hamites of East Africa is particularly elaborate.
As an example we may take the pastoral tribe of the Nandi. These people
used to circumcise boys every seven and a half years, and celebrated the
occasion with great festivals. Since 1905 circumcision takes place at
shorter intervals. The usual age for circumcision is from the fifteenth
to the nineteenth year. Younger boys are only circumcised if they are
rich orphans, or if their fathers are old men. The ceremony begins at
the time of the first quarter of the moon. Three days before the
operation the boys are given over by their fathers or guardians into
the charge of old men, called _moterenic_, as many as ten boys going to
two of these men. The _moterenic_ and their boys betake themselves to a
neighbouring wood, where they build a hut, in which they spend the six
months after the circumcision. The boys have their heads shaved and are
given a strong aperient of Arsidia sp. Warriors visit the hut, and take
away all the boys' clothes and ornaments. Then young girls visit the
boys and give them a part of their clothing and ornaments. After the
boys have put these on they inform their relations of the forthcoming
circumcision. There is dancing on the next day, after which the warriors
draw the boys aside to discover from their expressions whether they will
behave cowardly or bravely at the circumcision. After this examination
the boys receive necklaces from their girl friends, with which they
decorate themselves. After sunset they must listen to the sharpening of
the operating knife. Warriors are present, and tease the boys. Later on
all undress, and a procession is formed with a _moterenic_ at the head
and rear of it. Four times they have to crawl through a small cage,
where warriors are stationed at the entrance and exit with nettles and
hornets. With the former they beat the boys in the face and on the sex
organs; the hornets they set on their backs. A fire is kept burning in
the middle of the room, around which old men are seated. Each boy has to
step before them and beg for permission to be circumcised. He is
questioned about his early life; and if the old men think that he has
told an untruth or is hiding something, he is put among nettles. If the
old men are satisfied with his words, the price of the circumcision has
to be arranged, whereupon the boys are led back to their huts. There the
warriors and elders assemble the next morning, and at dawn the
circumcision begins. The boy to be circumcised is supported by the
senior _moterenic_, the others sitting close by and looking on. The
operator kneels before the boy, and with a quick cut performs the first
part of the operation; the foreskin is drawn forward and cut off at the
tip of the glans penis. The surrounding men watch the boy's face in
order to see whether he winces or shows any sign of pain. If this is the
case, he is called a coward, and receives the dishonourable nickname of
_kilpit_; he is not allowed to be present at later circumcisions nor at
the children's dances. The brave boys receive bundles of ficus from the
women, who welcome them with cries of joy when they return the necklaces
which they have previously received from their girl friends. The
foreskins are collected and placed in an ox horn. Friends and relatives
make merry together, while the second part of the operation begins. At
this only sterile girls may be present, and also women who have lost
several brothers and sisters at short intervals. Many boys become
unconscious during this part of the operation. The wounds are only
washed with cold water, and the boys are led back to their huts, where
they spend some weeks quietly. During the first four days they are not
allowed to touch food with their hands; they must eat either out of a
half-calabash or with the help of some leaves. They get what they like,
also milk and meat. But, apart from their _moterenic_, nobody may come
near them for four days. Afterwards the hand-washing ceremony is
performed; the foreskins are taken out of the ox horn, sacrificed to
their god, and then buried in cowdung at the foot of a croton tree. Now
the boys may eat with their hands again, but still no one may see them
except the young children who bring them food. Three months later, when
the boys are quite well again, they have to go through a new ceremony,
during which they have to dive repeatedly into the river. If one of them
should meet with an accident, his father has to kill a goat. Only now
may the boys move about freely, but they still have to wear women's
clothes (as hitherto) and a special head-dress that hides their faces.
They must not enter a cattle kraal nor come near the cattle, nor are
they allowed to be outdoors when the hyena howls. This period of
semi-seclusion lasts about eight weeks. Its conclusion is celebrated by
a feast. Still more ceremonies follow, and again a feast, after which
the boys finally enter the status of manhood.

Girls are circumcised when some of them in the settlement have reached
marriage age. They are shaved, given aperients, have to put on men's
clothes, which they receive from their lovers, and take their clubs,
loin bells, etc. After three days' ceremonial the circumcision is
performed in the morning, at which the mothers and some old women are
present; men are only admitted when they have lost several brothers and
sisters in succession. The mothers run about crying and shouting during
the operation. Only the clitoris is cut out. If a girl behaves bravely,
she may return the clothes and other things of her lover, otherwise they
are thrown away. The girls, too, must not touch food with their hands
for four days; afterwards they are put into long dresses with a kind of
head mask, and have to go through a period of seclusion. After the
completion of various other formalities they are fit for marriage
(Hollis, 1909, pp. 52 _et seq._).

No satisfactory explanation has so far been forthcoming of the purpose
of these elaborate circumcision customs. Similar customs are observed by
other Hamites of Eastern Africa.

Among the Masai there exists the belief that circumcision was introduced
by the command of God (Merker, p. 60). After the circumcision boys and
girls are considered grown up. The former have to be circumcised as soon
as they are strong enough to take part in a war expedition. The
circumcision of sons whose parents have no property and of poor orphans
takes place last of all. For the meat banquet which the newly
circumcised hold every one present has to supply an ox. Poor boys must
first acquire it by working for it. The circumcision is a public affair,
and is arranged by the witch doctor in certain years. The old men
consult in all the districts, and fix a day for the circumcision of the
first batch of boys. All the boys circumcised during a certain number of
years form an age class with a particular name (as among the Nandi).
Several weeks before the circumcision the boys, adorned with many
ornaments, dance and sing in their own and neighbouring kraals, in order
to express their joy at their approaching admission into the warrior
class. On the day before the circumcision the boys' heads are shaved. On
the appointed day itself the boys and the warriors who are present at
the operation assemble before dawn at the place chosen by the operators.
The boys pour cold water over each other, so as to become less
sensitive. After the operation the wounded member is washed with milk;
no remedy for stopping the bleeding is applied. Later on all the men of
the neighbourhood assemble in the kraal, where they are regaled with
meat and honey beer by the parents of the newly circumcised boys. The
girls are circumcised as soon as signs of puberty become evident,
sometimes even earlier. The operation consists in a complete abscission
of the clitoris. The wound, as with the boys, is washed in milk. The
girl remains in her mother's hut until the wound is healed. As soon as
the man to whom the girl is promised as bride hears of her recovery he
pays her father the remaining part of the bride-price, and nothing more
stands in the way of the marriage.

Among the Somals in North-east Africa the boys are circumcised when six
years old, and the girls are infibulated at three or four years of age.
The infibulation is preceded by the shortening of the clitoris and the
clipping of the external labia. The operation is performed by
experienced women, who also sew up the inner labia (except for a small
aperture) with horse-hair, bast, or cotton thread. The girls have to
rest for several days with their legs tied together. Before marriage the
above-mentioned women or the girls themselves undo the stitching, which,
however, is in most cases only severed completely before the confinement
(Paulitschke, p. 24).

In Western Africa most peoples practise the circumcision of boys. The
age at which this takes place varies greatly. The Duala in Cameron have
the boys circumcised when four or five years old, the Bakwiri as late as
the twelfth to fourteenth year, and the Dahomey even postpone the
circumcision to the twentieth year. But it always takes place before
marriage, as women would refuse to have relationship with uncircumcised
men (Buschan, "Sitten," III., p. 40).

A peculiar disfigurement of the sex organs is customary among the
Hottentots, Bushmen, and many Bantu tribes of Middle and South Africa.
This consists in the artificial elongation of the small labia. It was
first observed among the Hottentot women, and therefore the elongated
labia were called the "Hottentot apron." Among the Jao, Makonde, and
other East African Bantu tribes, the girls at the ages of seven, eight,
or nine years are instructed by old women about sex intercourse and
their behaviour towards grown-up people. At the same time they are
encouraged to systematically alter the natural shape of the genital
organs by continually pulling at the labia minora and thus unnaturally
lengthening them. Karl Weule has seen such disfigured organs from 7 to 8
centimetres long. According to the assertion of numerous male natives,
the elongated labia assume such dimensions that they hang half-way down
to the knee. The main purpose of this disfiguration seems to be erotic;
it is said to excite the men. The assumption that the labia minora are
naturally exceptionally large among the Hottentots is certainly wrong.
Karl Weule is right when he definitely maintains that his proof of the
artificial elongation of the labia among the East Africans establishes
it as an indubitable fact that the famous Hottentot apron is also an
artificial product. Le Vaillant established this independently almost
100 years before Weule; but the error dragged on from decade to decade,
chiefly because nobody troubled or had the good fortune to study the
puberty rites as Weule did. It is time at last to give up this erroneous

Among the Jaos the operation of the boys consists in a combination of
incision with circumcision so that only a tiny piece of the under-part
of the preputium remains. The boy must show courage at the operation.
Screams, if they occur, are drowned by the laughter of the bystanders.
Bleeding is stilled by bark powder. The boys have to lie down for about
twenty days or more, until healing has taken place. As usual,
circumcision is combined with instruction about sex behaviour.

In former times the Jaos are said to have imposed castration as a
punishment on men for misbehaviour with the chief's wife (Weule, pp. 29,
35). Castration still takes place for this reason among other negro
races, especially the Mohammedan Sudanese.

In North America the few Indians still living in a state of nature do
not practise mutilation of the sex organs. In South America circumcision
exists among the linguistically isolated tribes and the neighbouring
Aruake and Karaib tribes of the north-west, also among the tribes on the
Ucayali and the tributaries of the Apure (W. Schmidt, p. 1048). The
Kayapo Indians on the Araguay river cut the frenulum of the penis with a
taquara splinter, and the penis cuff is fastened on to the rolled-up
foreskin (W. Kissenberth, p. 55).

The purpose of circumcision is probably to prolong the sex act, for the
bare glans is less sensitive than the covered one. Friederici says (p.
89) that the black boys congregating on the stations and plantations
frequently discuss these matters amongst themselves; they know that the
glans of the circumcised is much less sensitive than that of the
uncircumcised. Many authors are of the opinion that the abscission or
incision of the foreskin in boys has the purpose of making cohabitation
easier in later years, as this is often made difficult by phimosis
(tightness of the foreskin). Külz (p. 40) found that among the youthful
plantation workers in New Mecklenburg nearly a quarter were afflicted
with phimosis, and often to such a degree that normal sex functioning
was quite impossible. But such a condition does not seem to prevail
among most of the primitive peoples practising circumcision. And,
further, of what use would mutilations be that had nothing to do with
tightness of the foreskin?

The prolonged festivals and elaborate ceremonials which are so often
connected with the circumcision of boys and of girls, or with their
admission to the state of manhood and womanhood (without accompanying
circumcision), are intended to preserve the event in the memory. The
long ceremony is deeply impressed upon the mind, and forms a firm
nucleus round which other memories cluster which otherwise would be lost
in the humdrum of ordinary life. How could the time of entry into
manhood remain without ceremonious festival? This seems all the more
necessary because the growth into manhood is gradual and almost
unnoticeable, and if there were no ceremony, it would pass without
making any impression. It is therefore the intention not only to give
expression to the beginning virility, but above all to the admission
into the league of youth (Schurtz, pp. 95, 96).



Among all human races the signs of maturity appear later and less
distinctly in the male than in the female. In Europeans the period of
puberty coincides with the second period of increased bodily growth,
which ceases in the male between the sixteenth and the eighteenth year,
and in the female between the fourteenth and the sixteenth year. The end
of the puberty period may, however, in individual cases, be postponed
for some years. The exact time of the advent of sex maturity, which, on
account of their menstruation, can be fixed much more readily in girls
than in boys, varies not only individually, but racially. The same
applies to the difference in time between the advent of maturity and the
cessation of bodily growth. Sexual maturity, as well as the cessation of
bodily growth, takes place much earlier in Europeans than in some of the
primitive peoples. Among other primitive peoples, however, maturity
occurs comparatively late, and bodily growth ceases shortly after. To
the latter belong certainly some of the peoples living in the tropics.

The opinion still prevails that climate has a considerable influence on
the advent of maturity. Rudolf Martin (1915) remarks: "Races living in
the tropics grow more quickly and mature earlier than the races living
in temperate zones. This is undoubtedly due to the earlier advent of

As regards the Japanese, E. Baelz had already in 1891 disputed the
statement that they mature early. He found, however, that the growth of
both sexes ceases in Japan earlier than in Europe; still sex maturity in
the female does not occur earlier. According to the concordant
statements of female teachers of various girls' schools, the Japanese
girls, in fact, reach maturity later than European girls, and half-caste
girls take a medium position.

Since then reliable data about the advent of maturity among non-European
races have seldom been given, but those to hand show that most probably
even among coloured primitive people puberty generally occurs late.

Very important material has been collected by O. Reche in Matupi (New
Pomerania, Melanesia), with the assistance of the Catholic mission of
the place. He found that the rhythm of growth of the Melanesians
corresponds on the whole to that of the Europeans, except that the
growth ceases altogether a few years earlier. Development in height is
finished on the whole in girls at the beginning of the seventeenth year,
and in boys in the eighteenth year. But, as regards the advent of
puberty, Reche's researches led to the surprising result that all Matupi
girls, with the exception of those seventeen years old, had not yet
menstruated. Reche remarks that this strikingly late appearance of
menstruation is also known to the missionaries, because in order to
prevent early marriages they only consent to the marriage of a girl
after the first menstruation has taken place. Reche's experience is in
strong contradiction to the belief formerly taken for granted, for
puberty occurs among these inhabitants of the tropics not only not
earlier, but, on the contrary, later than with the Europeans living in
temperate climates. Of importance is the fact that in the Matupi natives
puberty coincides with the highest point of the curve of growth, namely,
with the end of the development in height. Puberty commences when growth
ceases. It almost seems as if the advent of maturity absorbs all the
strength and hinders further growth. It is quite different with
Europeans in this respect: the beginning of puberty falls with them in
the second period of growth (in boys the twelfth to the sixteenth, in
girls the eleventh to the fourteenth year), and therefore long before
growth ceases altogether.

It would seem that the conditions existing among Europeans are the
primitive state, as with the majority of animals also puberty begins
before the cessation of growth.

Reche reports further that, corresponding to the late puberty, the
secondary sexual characteristics also appear exceptionally late in
Matupi children. This is the chief reason why the boys and girls,
especially as they are small, appear remarkably young even shortly
before maturity, and why their age seems much less than it actually is.
The first beginning of the change from the areola mamma to the budding
breast shows itself among the Matupi girls not before the sixteenth
year; the development of the breast seems to coincide with the first
menstruation. Axillary hair did not appear in sixteen-year-old Matupi
girls, with one exception; and it was scanty in those seventeen years
old, though it is generally copious in adults. There was also no trace
of a beard in seventeen-year-old boys, though it is well developed in
the older men. It must be added that the late differentiation of
secondary sexual characteristics is also noticeable among other coloured
races, as, _e.g._, among the Philippines and other Indonesian races.

Among the Papuans of New Guinea also sex maturity occurs late. As
Richard Neuhaus wrote, according to information given by missionaries
who have lived for a long time among the natives on Tami and among the
Jabim, the first menstruation generally appears in the fifteenth to
sixteenth year. Young males look very undeveloped up to the sixteenth
year. Neuhaus thought this late maturity was the result of bad feeding,
though it does not appear from his other descriptions that the economic
conditions of the Papuans are especially unfavourable.

A. E. Jenks reports of the Igorots on Luzon that boys as well as girls
attain puberty at a late age, generally between fourteen and sixteen
years. The civilised Ilkano people settled among the Igorots definitely
declare that the girls do not menstruate before they have reached the
sixteenth or seventeenth year. A considerable error as regards their age
seems to be excluded with these people, who have lived a long time under
European influence.

Of the Andamanese, a pigmy race, Portman and Molesworth write that
puberty appears in boys and girls round about the fifteenth year. Bodily
growth is finished at eighteen years, and is in any case after maturity
very trivial.

Eugen Fischer makes the following statements about the Bastards in
German South-west Africa: "In one family five out of six daughters
menstruated for the first time at the age of fifteen, one at the age of
sixteen. One Bastard woman had first menstruated at the age of
seventeen, three of her daughters at thirteen, the fourth, who was
anæmic, at seventeen. Another Bastard woman, who herself had her first
menstruation at fifteen, had two daughters from a white man who had
reached puberty at sixteen and seventeen years of age. A girl with
distinct anæmia stated that she had had her first period at sixteen
years, her sister even as late as eighteen," Fischer knows of three
girls that became mature at sixteen, fourteen, and thirteen years. L.
Schultze reports that with the Hottentots the first menstruation
appears, as a rule, between the ages of thirteen and fifteen.

There is, unfortunately, no information to be had about the negroes
with regard to this subject. The puberty rites practised by them give no
clue to the real age at the advent of puberty.

Ales Hrdlicka (pp. 125-129) tried to determine the age of puberty among
Indian girls of the south-west of the United States by their height, as
definite statements of age are not to be had. This method is not without
objection, for it is certain that individuals who have attained puberty
are decidedly taller than persons of the same age who have not reached
maturity. Hrdlicka found that of those examined in the twelfth or
thirteenth year one-third of the Apache girls and as many as
three-quarters of the Pima girls had already menstruated. In the age
class of thirteen to fourteen years four-fifths of the Apache and
nine-tenths of the Pima girls had already menstruated, while of
forty-six older girls only one had not yet attained puberty. The first
signs of breast development were noticed by Hrdlicka in clothed Indian
maidens whose ages he estimated to be from eleven to twelve years. But
it was only between fifteen and seventeen that the girls acquired the
typical womanly form; until then they have, as Hrdlicka says, "a
somewhat male appearance." In youths the beard begins to grow at the
fifteenth or sixteenth year. The climate is moderate in the country of
the Apache and Pima Indians; the days are decidedly hot in the low-lying
regions, but the nights are generally cold in these regions, even in

In comparison it may be noted that, according to H. P. Bowditch's
investigations in Boston, nearly four-fifths of the white girls born in
America mature between the thirteenth and seventeenth year. Puberty is
reached relatively most often between the ages of fourteen and fifteen,
though over 40 per cent. of 575 girls examined had not yet menstruated
at the completed fifteenth year.

Within one and the same race the conditions of life seem to have a great
influence on the age of puberty and bodily development. Unfavourable
conditions produce a retardation of puberty; favourable conditions
accelerate it. This may be the chief cause why the beginning of puberty
varies individually by several years.

There exists so far no definite explanation of the racial differences in
the age of puberty. Reche says, "It is conceivable that the
characteristically late maturity of a tropical race (like that of the
Melanesians) may gradually have been acquired by the unfavourable
influence of too hot a climate or of continual underfeeding acting on
many generations."

It is remarkable that, in contradistinction to the Melanesians, the
Indians become mature very early, and the same applies most likely to
the Australians. In India, as in Australia, sexual intercourse is begun
at a very youthful age, among the girls often long before the first
menstruation. It is possible that on account of this the age of puberty
is lowered, so that girls who mature late are more easily injured and
perish in greater number than the girls maturing earlier, who are less
injured by the premature sexual intercourse. The male sex may have been
influenced in the same direction through heredity.

Just as physical maturity, so is the cessation of generative power and
bodily decline more marked in women than in men. In Middle and Northern
Europe, procreation generally ceases with women of an age between
forty-five and fifty years. Numerous birth statistics from all countries
of this continent show that birth in women over fifty years old is very
rare. It is not quite clear how the case stands in this respect among
the coloured races. Hrdlicka reports of the North American Indian women
that with them the climacterium occurs apparently at about the same age
as with European women. It must be taken into consideration that
accurate statements of age are wanting, and that the age of Indian women
can easily be greatly overrated. Otherwise it has generally been
reported of coloured women that they age rapidly, and that their
reproductive period is comparatively short. In North-west Brazil the
Indian girls marry as soon as in their tenth to twelfth year, on account
of their rapid development. Early maturity and marriage may be one of
the chief causes of their rapid decline. The Indian women are generally
beyond their prime at the age of twenty. Their straight figure is
frequently covered with a disgusting accumulation of fat, and the
elasticity of movement gives way to indolence. Other women become very
thin after several confinements, their features become sharp and bony,
and among old women one often comes across real hag-like creatures with
half-blind, running eyes (Koch-Grünberg, II., p. 149).

In India the women of the Dravidian as well as of the Mongolian races
age rapidly. Their generative power rarely lasts longer than the
beginning of the forties. Among the pigmies the time of procreation is
said to be equally short (Portman and Molesworth). Spencer and Gillen
say that with the Australian women a rapid bodily decline takes place as
early as the twenty-fifth and at the latest in the thirtieth year, which
cannot be attributed to exceptional privations or harsh treatment. The
Australian women apparently reach the age of fifty years or more only

Jochelson (pp. 413 _et seq._) writes that the Koryak women age very
rapidly. They cease to bear children at about the age of forty. Other
travellers have made statements about the great age that the Koryaks are
said to attain. Jochelson's thorough-going investigations showed that of
284 persons only thirteen could possibly have been over sixty-five years
old, and among them there was only one really old man.

Schultze (p. 297) mentions two Hottentot women who had given birth at
the age of forty-seven, and another who still had her period at
fifty-five. Among the negresses late births also occur. Unfortunately,
ethnographical literature only rarely gives facts with regard to this



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_By S. HERBERT, M.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P._



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Second Edition, Large Crown 8vo, containing 75 Illustrations.
Price +7s. 6d.+ net (by post, 8/1).

     "We have only praise for the result of Dr. Herbert's attempt to
     provide us with a simple and brief, but at the same time scientific
     and comprehensive, survey of our present knowledge concerning the
     laws of heredity, their working and significance."--_Eugenics


Second Edition, Revised, Large Crown 8vo, containing 90 Illustrations.
Price +12s. 6d.+ net (by post, 13/6).

     "Contains not a single dry page--far and away the most compact and
     complete account of evolution in all its aspects."--_Globe._

_By Mrs. S. HERBERT._

SEX LORE. A Primer on Courtship, Marriage, and Parenthood.

Large Crown 8vo, containing 55 Illustrations.
Price +7s. 6d.+ net (by post, 8/1).

     "The author in simple, non-technical language expounds the main
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     she treats this delicate subject in a tactful manner. A special
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     volume is intended for the 'younger generation,' but parents and
     teachers would be well advised to peruse the book, which should
     prove invaluable for educative purposes."--_Medical Times._

     " ... may be left with confidence in the hands of any educated
     person who is attaining to manhood or womanhood."--_Aberdeen Daily


A. & C. BLACK, LTD., 4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W. 1




_Demy 8vo._      PRICE +10/6+ NET      (_By Post, 11s._)








     "Mrs. Havelock Ellis has written a fine and beautiful book,
     although many of her ideas appear too Utopian to be practical. It
     is thoughtful and pure in tone, offering no inducement to the
     prurient of mind, and her chapter on 'Blossoming-Time'--the tactful
     enlightenment of children--is a lovely piece of literature. It
     makes one long for a new and perfect world, in which all minds
     shall be pure and all passion fine and clean."--_The Statesman._

     " ... it will do everyone good to read and ponder it."--_Truth._


A. & C. BLACK, LTD., 4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W. 1

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