Australian Aboriginal - Initiation and Mourning Rites of Passage


What are there significances?   Why are they performed?


Alkira-Kiuma Ceremony or the Tossing Ceremony of the Aranda Tribe (1904).  At age twelve, the boy's first initiation ceremony, tossed and caught by various male relatives..



Having already gone through the Ceremony of Circumcision some six weeks earlier, the Parra Ceremony of Subincision follows.  Here are images of the subincision ceremony of the Warramunga Tribe near Alice Springs (1904; right).  Newly subincised men rubbing their blood on the backs of others, of the Aranda Tribe (1904).  



The Kuntamara Ceremony or re-opening of the subincision.  The urethra is being cut deeper by an elder with a sharp flake of stone to further strengthen the bonds of kinship.  The Warramunga Tribe.



Nathagura or Fire Ceremony of the Warramunga Tribe.  Some of the initiates are seated under the brush shelter, as others dance with the "great torches."  The torch bearers are daubed with pipe-clay mud.  At the culmination of the ceremony, the torches is lit afire, as the hot embers crash down upon the initiates.  In the Aranda version of this ceremony, initiates lay upon burning logs, separated only be a layer of green brush, for four to five minutes.  The heat and smoke are said to be stifling.   The Fire Ceremony is one of the last ceremonies associated with adult male initiation.



Tooth Knocking-Out Ceremony, as an additional, optional initiation into the Rain Totem of the Aranda Tribe.  The right upper incisor would be knocked out with a stone.  The tooth is thrown toward the initiate's mother's Alcheringa birth place.



Man with gashed his thigh, during the Kulungara Ceremony, a mourning ceremony.  Women embracing and wailing after cutting their heads during a mourning ceremony.   Warramunga Tribe.


Images on this page via Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillenís The Northern Tribes of Central Australia (Macmillan & Co, England, 1904).

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