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The Unambal Aborigine Tribe of North West Australia

Circumcision and Initiation Ceremony

Page 4 of 6



A very important event in the life of a young male Aborigine is the initiation ceremony which makes him an adult man, and is performed at the first signs of puberty. These initiation ceremonies consist of circumcision and the incision of scars on his chest, shoulders, arms and buttocks. The wounds are filled with sand in order to produce larger scars. In the case of a young girl the initiation ceremony happens at the onset of the first menstruation, when scars are incised on their buttocks. She is then deflowered by members of her own marriage class, after which she can cohabit with all young men who are classed as possible husbands.

For the young man Circumcision is followed by Subincision when his beard starts to grow. The young man is seated on rock while his penis is split open with a stone knife along its full length on the underside. The penis once split open is pressed flat against the rock on which the young man is sitting. The Aborigines explained that this is done in order to make it "lighter and more beautiful".
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Initiates receive bread & tea
A red blossom is placed in the wound because the penis is to be as red as possible on the inside. After the young man has been initiated in this way he is allowed to make stone spearheads. The Wandjina cast the first bolt of lightning by splitting open his penis and in this way was able to discharge fire and lightning from it. The Wandjina created fire by turning the red inside of his split penis outwards so that fire could come out. The Wandjina can direct lightning by taking his penis in his hand and with his club show the lightning the direction it is to take.

In this way he can strike his enemies with lightning or shatter trees to get firewood for himself. I have often observed the aborigines in thunderstorms trying to follow the Wandjina's example of directing flashes of lightning, and no amount of failure was able to shake their belief. The aborigines decorate their Spearthrowers with a yellow serpent to represent lightning.
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The Unambal | Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
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