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Australian Aboriginal Culture

Updated on May 13, 2012

Introduction

The Aboriginals are the natives of Australiaand Australian Aboriginal culture is considered as the most ancient culture which has survived the test of time and technology. The Australian Aborigines were spread in all the places in Australiaand on the Islandof Tasmania. The stone technology has never been replaced by the other technologies in the Aboriginal culture. They are still preserving their culture in respect of every walk of life and they give fairly a good description of what and how the people were and how they lived. They did not have agriculture, they did not have livestock, and did not form colonies to live. Despite art flourished in the form of painting, song and dance was part of the culture, and enforcement of law was strict. The study of Australian aboriginal culture puts a lot of insight into how the people of those ages lived, what they did and what were their beliefs.


History

The Aboriginal people are believed to be the first group of human beings who migrated fromAfricaabout 65 to 75 thousand years back. Their main occupation was hunting and they were semi-nomadic people. Movement from one place to another place depended on their need for food and change of season. There were many tribes which were led by religious leaders. The codes for living were the words of mouth and were preached and practiced and passed on to generations. Enforcement of discipline was done strictly and younger generations were taught to practice and carry on the culture.


Beliefs

The Aboriginal people believed that their ancestral beings created their world. The social system of living was based on the moiety system which consisted of two groups. Marriage was not permitted within the moiety and only exogamous marriage or between the moiety was practiced. The family life of Aboriginals permitted a man to have more than one and up to ten wives. They lived in groups and kinship was established amongst the persons living together. The kinship system defined the relationships and responsibilities. All people in a group had to be identified through a relationship and up to 70 relationships were used for this purpose. There was another peculiar system practiced by these Aboriginals. It banned the people talking to their mother in-law directly irrespective of the gender. That is the talks between mother in-law and son in-law and mother in-law and daughter in-law were banned.


Shelter

The houses were made from straight logs from trees with leafy coverings which were locally available served as shelter during cold season. The practice of sleeping in the open air with fire to keep them warm was also in practice. The food habits were excellent and they ate balanced food as described in the present times. The food mainly consisted of fruits, roots, seeds, vegetables and hunted animals and birds. Both men and women searched and found food. Men were good at tracking and hunting and the prey were disabled by stone or club and then they were caught. Mud was used to avoid the smell of human beings from reaching the animals. Hunting was done by men in groups with very good co-ordination and spear was the main hunting tool. The Aborigines were expert in finding the water sources and hence could survive water scarcity. Those who lived by river sides were also good at catching fish. The household mainly consisted of a stone to grind, barkstone water container, basket made of cane, big battle sworn and protective shield.


Livelihood

In the day to day life, they used only waist belts and arm bands which helped them in carrying the stone knife, hatchet and other small instruments for hunting. They used to get body paintings during the ceremonies and headgear and necklace were worn during this time. Apart from that much of a dress code was not in practice and covering the body was only for the purpose of protection from cold.

They had a close association with nature and have developed many medicines which are extracted from plants and animals.


Religious Beliefs

The aboriginal Australians were religious and spiritual. There were many Gods and they were given a form to make it convenient. Rituals were a part of their living which included dancing, singing which were done to invoke the blessing of God to get food and rain. They also had the practice of celebrating the initiation of children into adulthood, which sometimes lasted upto few days. The ceremonial dress was made from animal skin, wrist and ankle bands were also worn. Funeral ceremonies were also observed with mourning, cutting body parts as an expression of love for the departed person. A series of observations, songs and dances were held to make sure the departed person left the place. They believed in life after death. This is evident from the ceremonies they conduct after the death of a person.


Australian Aboriginal Music

Responsibilities

Women were independent and had a say in all the aspects of life. Child rearing and gathering food were the main things that women were concerned most. They also had role in law making, practicing traditional healing, and performance art. Women also had the responsibility of carrying the culture through ceremonies. Men used different ways to scare women and keep them under control and also to scare unidentified visitors. Telling stories to children was an important aspect of this culture. The stories mainly described how the land was formed, why the animals existed and about nature and the culture was passed through generations by these stories. The stories and symbols played an important role in carrying the culture of the Aborigines through generations. The Aborigines used symbols to express their feelings. They had excellent linguistic skills and they used to speak 250 languages which have got reduced to fifteen languages at present. They used a musical instrument called didgeridoo played during ceremonies.


Conclusion

The improvement in technology, science and culture has been tremendous throughout the world. The modernization in living, culture and thought has changed the human life drastically. This change has cast its effect on Australian Aboriginal culture which has undergone many metamorphoses. Despite this, it can be considered as the oldest existing culture which is still alive and in practice.


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    • Mura Mura Art profile image

      Mura Mura Art 5 years ago

      The Aboriginal culture should be better understood as it's one of the last remaining oldest cultures in the world. It's a great help to have hubs that share information like this that otherwise would go unnoticed. Thanks for sharing!

    • bryteyedgemini profile image

      bryteyedgemini 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      I realy enjoyed this brief glimse into the life and culture of the Australian aboriginals.

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