1847 - Angas, G. F. Savage Life and Scenes in Australia and New Zealand Vol.II - APPENDIX

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  1847 - Angas, G. F. Savage Life and Scenes in Australia and New Zealand Vol.II - APPENDIX
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(As yet explored.)

THESE are to be found on North Head, on South Reef Promontory, on Middle Head, at Camp Cove, at Point Piper, at Mossman's Bay, and at Lane Cove on Mr. Kirk's property.

The subjects represented are the human figure, the hieleman, or shield; kangaroos, birds, flying squirrels, black swans, and various sorts of fish, some of them twenty-seven feet in length.

In Lane Cove, in Middle Harbour, at George's Head, and at Port Aiken, are carved heads; and at the latter place, parts of the human body cut in intaglio. At Port Aiken and in Middle Harbour they are found in caves, formed by projecting masses of rock, called by the natives "Giber Gunyah;" i. e. stone or rock house. Thus, a black fellow, on his first arrival in Sydney, seeing a stone house exclaimed, "Ah! white fellow too in giber gunyah!" The term is of eastern origin, as appears from the derivation.

[Arabic script] Giber (in Arabic), a hump on a camel's back; a rock. Giber, altar, Gibraltar.

[Arabic script] Gunn (in Arabic), preserving; covering; shading from the sun; a veil; court or middle of a house.

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That these sculptures are of remote origin, is also corroborated by the fact that these carvings, or outline tracings, are on promontories and peninsulas.

Promontories, islands, and peninsulas, high lands overlooking the sea, were sacred in the far East and in Western Europe. A chapel is erected on Cape Finisterre, the farthest land then known; whence named Finis-terrae, or the land's end. A chapel, dedicated to "St. Aldhelm," stood on the summit of the high promontory, St. Alban's Head, well-known to the homeward bound traveller.

Pan was worshipped by fishermen, who inhabited promontories washed by the sea. The Athenian maidens were accustomed to leave propitiatory offerings to the gods, for a good husband, on the east bank of the Ilissus, near the Stadium, on the first evenings of a new moon. Byron and Hobhouse, when Galt informed them of this, remarked, that on the promontory above that spot, it is recorded that a statue of Venus formerly stood. --See Galt.

The natives of New South Wales have some superstitious feelings relative to the moon, by which they count their time, and an eclipse of the moon throws them all into an awful state of consternation. It is also during the full of the moon that they hold their dances or corrobbories. --See Corybantes.

Relative to these tracings, or carvings, upon the surface rocks of projecting headlands, their uses or intention are now only legendary. The natives say, that "black fellow made them long ago;" and, to convey an idea of remote antiquity, they hold up their fingers and hands, elevate the face, shut the eyes, and say "Murrey -- murrey- murrey--long time ago"--shaking the head each lime they pronounce the word "murrey."

They agree in stating that the tribes did not reside upon these spots, assigning as a reason--"Too much dibble-dibble walk about;" for they greatly fear meeting the "dibble" or some evil spirit in their rambles, and never leave their camp at night. They state that these places were all sacred to the priest, doctor, or conjurer--for the one is the other among

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these tribes. A man potent in spells and of great dread, is the Ko-ra-gee -- [Greek script]--Chiruga. The oldest person in the Sydney tribe, is the widow of the chief who ruled when the first fleet arrived, and whose name was "Bungaree;" thence dignified as "King Bungaree." He lived, poor fellow, for some years, and saw the kangaroos and opossums chased from his domains; but he gloried in a cocked hat, excelled in a bow, knew a fresh arrival instinctively, and welcomed him to "his country" with all the form of a master of the ceremonies, and concluded by begging a dump (a small silver coin then current) to drink the stranger's health. His queen has survived her glories, and she now totters about, very aged and decrepit, known as "Old Gooseberry;" but her memory is still good.

In her statements she says she was no eye-witness--"Bel I see it, my father tell me"--so that all is a matter of legend relating to these carvings.

Though the tribes did not reside on those places, I am informed that they used to have mystic dances 1 or festivals on this Ko-ra-jee land, and that they used to fight as well as dance. Poor old "Gooseberry" said in a mysterious tone, "drag gin," which means, run off with the women. It is customary with the natives to take the women of another tribe by force; stunning them, and then actually dragging them into the bush. One chattering native added very seriously, "Pi, fellow," 2 "Kill fellow;" but a look of anger from the more cautious "Gooseberry" prevented further information as to human sacrifices.

The early mysteries of the Egyptians, the Jews, the Greeks, and even the Romans, were of a libidinous though less ferocious character. The custom of the Roman youth running naked, and chasing women with thongs of leather, is analogous to the similar early practice of "dragging the gins." The g is pronounced hard by the natives--[Greek script].

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The orgies which, as legends tell, were once celebrated on the promontories of Port Jackson, also partake of the character of the Buddha mysteries, the Singam of the East, and the Priapus worship of the West.

One rock or hill at Spring Cove is called "Ky-hy-Giber," the rock or hill of lewdness. There is no reason to doubt the truth of what the fathers have told their children, or their children (now aged people) have told to us.

I have copied the rude outlines of these primitive engravings as they now exist, and noted down the legends of the natives; but the question has yet to be answered, Who introduced these ceremonies, and chose rocks, and promontories, and caves--as in the old world they have been known to exist thousands of years ago -- sacred to Priests or Ko-ra-jee?

And who taught these savages to call what we suppose they never saw, and assuredly never constructed, viz., a vessel, by the same name now in use in India, and in the Celtic dialect of the Welsh, "Nao," a ship? [Arabic script]

Who taught them the use of the Boomerang, which is depicted in the tombs of Egypt, and called by Wilkinson the Throw-stick?

Are not these all evidences of the Asiatic origin of this people? But by what event or means, or at what period, New Holland was peopled by this now degenerate race, still remains clouded in obscurity; the people themselves, unlike the New Zealanders, having no legends whatever of their former origin.


Plate I.

Figs. I and 2. --Representations of the human figure carved on a flat rock at the extremity of Point Piper, on the property of D. Cooper, Esq. The attitudes are those of the corrobbory at the present day. Length of large figure, 5 feet; small figure, 3 1/2 feet.

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Figs. 3, 4, and 5. --A group carved upon a flat rock at Camp Cove. Length of large figure, 5 feet 6 inches. Coryberi, or invocation, or perhaps both? So in other representations of the human figure--

"Duplices palmas ad sidera tendens."

Near the figure (No. 5) is a heart-shaped object.

Fig. 6. --A similar outline of the human form in the usual attitude, at Middle Head.

Fig. 7. --Flying squirrel, at Point Piper. Length, 18 inch.

Fig. 8. --A fish, probably a shark, at Middle Head. Length, 18 feet.

Fig. 9. --A whale at Point Piper. Length, 27 feet. The shield and small fish are carved upon it in the attitudes represented in the Plate.

Fig. 10. --Black swan. Two feet in length. Also at Point Piper.

Fig. 1l. --A kangaroo. Nearly 9 feet in length. At Point Piper.

Fig. 12. --Probably a parrot. One foot.

Fig. 13. --Heart-shaped figure, not unlike the cockle that forms part of the food of the natives. Length of the largest one, 10 inches.

Plate II.

Fig. 1. --At Point Piper. Six feet in length.

Fig. 2. --A fish at Point Piper. Length, 6] feet.

Fig. 3. --An animal, 6 feet 2 inches in length. At South Reef Promontory.

Fig. 4. --A fish, 12 feet long. At Middle Head.

Fig. 5. --The Mogo or stone axe. South Reef Promontory.

Fig. 6. --The Hieleman or shield. Precisely similar to that in use at the present day amongst the people about Port Stephen, and many places along the coast.

Fig. 7. --Another shield. At Woodford, on the estate of Mr. Kirk, at Lane Cove. Two feet 4 inches.

Fig. 8. --A fish. Two feet in length. Also at Lane Cove.

Fig. 9. --The Boomerang. One foot 7 inches. Lane Cove.

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A representation of the boomerang is found in the tombs at Thebes. -- See Wilkinson. There are also at Lane Cove, besides kangaroos, shields the same as those here represented, and numerous carvings of small fish, but no large ones.

Fig. 10. --Two fishes. Five feet in length. At Middle Head.

Fig. 1l. --A human figure. At Lane Cove. Three feet 2 inches.

Fig. 12. -- Another figure. At same place. Four feet 10 inches.

Fig. 13. --A kangaroo. Eight feet long. At South Reef Promontory.

Fig. 14. --A small fish. At Point Piper. One foot.

Fig. 15. do. do. do.

Fig. 16. --A fish, 27 feet in length; and a smaller one, 3 feet in length. At Middle Head.

Fig. 17. --At Point Piper. Six feet in length.



Porphyry tells us, that in Arcadia was a cave sacred to Pan and the moon.

Mithratic Caves. -- Wherever the rites of the ancient Cabiri prevailed, we always find them in some manner or other connected with caverns; and the most mysterious rites of the Samothracian Cabiri were performed within the dark recesses of the cave Zerinthus. --See Faber on the Cimbri.

The Cabiric cavern was symbolical of the Hades of the Epoptae, or the vast central cavity of the earth. The Noetic gods, worshipped within these sacred caverns, were termed Patari, which appellation is derived from Patar, to dismiss or open, and alludes to the egress of the Noachidae from the ark.

The carvings of the natives along the east coast of New South Wales, are all near the water, and probably may have

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had some connection with water worship. Demeter and Kora were worshipped at the Charonian cavern mentioned by Strabo. --Strabo, 1. 12, p. 869.

The oracular shrine of Apollo was held in a mighty chasm in a hill side, known as the Delphic Oracle.

Amongst the Persians, most of their temples were caverns in rocks; either formed by nature or artificially produced. In Chusistan there are, at this day, many remains of such sacred caverns, and in the front of them are representations of various characters.

Painted caverns occur in sandstone rock, on the north-west coast of Australia; many of which were discovered by Capt. Grey, during his expeditions along that coast in 1838. The figures were principally men and kangaroos; the human figures, like those carved on the rocks at Point Piper, being all destitute of mouths.

Hands in Caves. --In his narrative of the journey along the north-west coast of Australia, Capt. Grey remarks, --"Another very striking piece of art was exhibited in the little gloomy cavities situated at the back of the main cavern. In these instances some rock at the sides of the cavity had been selected, and the stamp of a hand and arm by some means transferred to it, --this outline of the hand and arm was then painted black, and the rock around it white, so that on entering that part of the cave, it appeared as if a human hand and arm were projecting through some crevice admitting light. --Grey, vol. i. p. 204.

Intaglio hands are formed on rocks in various parts of the east coast of New South Wales, as at Port Aiken, and also near Lake Macquarie.



Sir Gardner Wilkinson mentions this instrument as occurring in the tombs at Thebes, in Upper Egypt. It is also distinctly delineated in one of the fresco paintings illustra-

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tive of the manners and customs of the ancient Egyptians, now in the British Museum, where a figure is represented in the act of flinging a boomerang or "throw-stick" at a number of ducks and aquatic fowl, as they are in the act of escaping from amongst the papyrus rushes.



The dances or corrobories (quasi Corybantes) have some reference to mystic rites; and are usually held at night, and by moonlight. "The earliest people in the north, the Celts, had no fixed habitation, knew not how to read, learned hymns or songs by heart, sang and danced to music, holding their meetings by moonlight, and had a solemn annual meeting."--Fasbroke, p. 527.

There were sacred hills in Persia, where, as people passed by, there were heard shouts as of a multitude of people; also hymns and exultations, and other uncommon noises. These sounds proceeded from the priests at their midnight worship, whose voices were reverberated by the mountains. -- See Bryant.

It seems probable that the corrobory dances are remains of this midnight and noisy worship, and were originally derived from these religious ceremonies; although the natives have no such meaning attached to them at the present day.

Cannibalism. --"The horrible custom of eating their own dead was common to the ancient Irish, and the Massagetae, a Scythian nation. --See Archaelogia, vol. v. p. 276. Also Herod. i. 216.



Ship. Sydney tribe, Naowi. Welsh, Nao. Greek, [Greek script]. Latin, Navis. Persian, [Arabic script] Nao.

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A stone--a rock. Sydney tribe, Keba or Giber. Arabic, [Arabic script] or [Arabic script] --so Gibraltar.

To go. Sydney tribe, Yan. Hindostanee, Jan-na. Latin, An-dare. Scottice, Gang.

Water. Sydney tribe, Aba. Persian, Ab, [Arabic script] Latin, Aqua.

Strike. Sydney tribe, Mah. So when spearing fish, one who sees the fish near the spear will call out "Strike, strike, now," "Mah, Mah." Hindostanee, imperative from Mahna, to strike.

Woman. Sydney tribe, Gin (g pronounced hard). Greek, [Greek script]

A Man. Sydney tribe, Joen. Persian, [Arabic script] Juvan. Latin, Juven-is.

Where? Persian, [Arabic script] Koo. Where are you? [Arabic script] Koo-i. The native call in the bush.

A cave. Sydney tribe, Gunyah. Arabic, [Arabic script] a covering from the shade.

A village or settlement in Hindostanee is "Gong." Thus, Mitta-gong, sweet or delightful village, is a common name for places in the Deccan: so, "Mitta-gong," in Australia, Woollon-gong, and other places ending in "gong."

To make marks, or to write, Sydney tribe, Calama. Persian, kullum. Hindostanee, Callam. Greek, [Greek script] a reed, a pen. Latin, Calamus.

Beautiful. Sydney tribe, Kalia. Greek [Greek script]

Sun. Sydney tribe, "Noah." See Faber, or Bryant, who state that the sun was so called in the most ancient limes.

To kill. Sydney tribe, Pi. Persian, I think, Pi-mocden, to kill [Arabic script]

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Burial in a sitting posture. The Carib Indians bury in a sitting position. --Hodgson, vol. i. p. 260.

Burials under tumuli are common in every part of the northern world. So here at the Clarence river.

The tombs of the ancients were kept in repair. Games were instituted by AEneas at the tomb of his father Anchises. A woman at the Clarence river neglected to trim and weed the tumulus of her late husband, and she was put to death in consequence of her neglect.

The blacks at Clarence river mark the burial-place by placing stones in a circle, and a large upright slab in the centre, even to the present day. They give no other reason for this than that it "belong to black fellow;" "black fellow make it so."

Some tribes throw the corpse into the branches of a tree for the birds to devour it. So the Persians, at the present time, expose their dead upon iron gratings, surrounded by an enclosed wall, but open to the skies, and birds feed upon the corpses.

Anciently the Sydney tribe burned their aged dead, but the young ones they buried. The three spots for burning were three bays, now known as Rose Bay, Chowder Bay, and Shell Cove.

Weapons are buried here with the dead, as in Tartary; also among the American Indians, and the early British. Caesar speaks of this custom.

At Clarence river, when an old man is sick, he lets himself down into a hollow tree to perish.

Printed by STEWART and MURRAY, Old Bailey.

1   See the ancient dances of the Corybantes. They were a sort of Cory-beri (corrobbory) perhaps.
2   "Pi, fellow," "pi-mooden," in Persian is to slay or kill [Arabic script]

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