A. W. Howitt's classic two-volume study, first published in 1904, investigates the organisation, practices and customs of the indigenous peoples he encountered during his forty years exploring Australia. He describes how he made 'close and friendly contact' with tribes who were, in his words, in a condition of 'complete savagery'. Howitt achieved considerable status among the Aborigines, and was even permitted to witness some of their sacred ceremonies. Focusing particularly on the social organisation of the tribes, their kinship systems and marriage rules, his book is a captivating account of a now-vanished civilisation.
Volume I: Preface; 1. On the origin of the aborigines of Australia and Tasmania; 2. Tribal organisation; 3. Social organisation; 4. Relationship terms; 5. Marriage rules; 6. Tribal government; Volume II: 7. Medicine-men and magic; 8. Beliefs and burial practices; 9. Initiation ceremonies, eastern type; 10. Initiation ceremonies, western type; 11. Messengers and message-sticks; 12. Various customs; Appendix; Index.