Cannibalism - Some Hidden Truths
What are the truths and fictions on cannibalism?
Is it primitive starvation barbarism or a necessity for human survival through spiritual belief?
Could we in fact call todays human donor/transplant system a form of cannibalism? Our modern day practice is to prolong life just as the natives believed in reincarnation beliefs.
The abhorrent practice was not restricted to the native peoples. In their cultures, the act was mostly performed in relation to spiritual beliefs and the consummation of a victims physical attributes. It was also a means of survival from starvation due to food shortages following droughts, disasters and even wars throughout the world. It has even occurred in more recent times by civilised peoples.
A few known modern examples include a recent plane crash in the South American Andes; Inuit reports of early English Arctic explorers; Japanese eating Australians, local peoples and comrades in New Guinea during World War 2; ritual cannibalism on Mer in the Torres Strait using a Gaba-Gaba (a stone club), a Singai (a cane loop) and a Upi (head knife); Skull trading (after meat extraction) by the Maoris of New Zealand in the 1800s; wide-spread cannibalism of captives in most Pacific Island peoples (notably New Guinea where the term long pig evolved).
The cannibal controversies have raged for over a century in Australia between historians and modern descendents of Aboriginal peoples. One fact is now certain. The ritual practices did occur with most activities occurring by necessity to avoid starvation and through their spiritual beliefs in reincarnation factors often misunderstood by successive generations of Europeans. To support such avid claims, researchers have recorded hundreds of Australian instances where the clan practices once occurred across the continent. These reports state that child eating; the consummation of family members upon sudden death and of an enemy after battle were reasonably common actions. Human oils were highly prized. It was the Christian conversions that saw the finality of the age-old customs. One point often ignored by historians is that the practice also occurred amongst early Europeans in Australia.
Handwritten statements by the runaway convict David Bracefell in the Noosa region state Now, twenty years after it all happened, I think its about time I put the record straight. After all, Mrs Eliza Fraser and her adventures are part of our history and if you cant know the truth about history, what can you know the truth about? (Bracefell was also known later as Captain Green of New Zealand, husband to Mrs Green, who was earlier known as Mrs Eliza Frazer. He was also called Bracefield in the media and Wandi or Wondi by the Queensland tribe with whom he once lived).
Bracefell goes on to say, the first mate, Brown, was helping defend Captain Fraser from the mutiny of his ship-wrecked crew when he dozed off. Darge tried to take his musket and the two struggled before Youlden stabbed Brown. Later, as the crew travelled on foot, Bobby Hodges was killed by Darge who apparently was proud of his compassion, relating to Bracewell that hed offered Hodges a choice of a quick death choking or throat-cutting. Hodges panic, after drawing the short straw, led him to beg Darge to slice flesh from his legs, but to leave him alive but this sickened Darge, who then cut Hodges throat (escaping convicts are reported to often take food on foot. Straw-drawing it seems was considered a fair way to decide who became the next meal).
Speaking of Darge, Bracefell says, He had, he confessed to me afterwards, become quite fond of that particular repast. The locals (Aboriginals) were often blamed for these particular incidents. (Based on Hodges reports presented on 13.09.1836 after his alleged death and a Sydney Gazette Report on the shipwreck of Mrs. Frazer of the same time period). Strange isnt it that Bracefells statement on cannibalism appears to be ignored in accounts of Queenslands (and Australias) pioneering histories?
What then of reports claiming Aboriginal practices? In Queensland, a common habit around Moreton Bay and Frasers Island reported by pioneers was that they skinned the deceased of the people, in one piece, leaving fingers, toes and ears intact (shades of the Aztec Xipe Totec?) before drying the skin on sticks and rolling it up. A torch was applied to the heated body beforehand to remove hair (except scalp and beard) and rubbed to remove the hair and outer skin particles. The meat was then distributed according to custom.
West of Cooktown, Chinese were roasted in clay white-ant ovens, smelling and looking exactly like roast pork, even the yellow skin crinkled like that of pork they have declined to eat white men who were tobacco eaters the blacks suspected the flesh of being poisoned, knowing the odor was not that of clean, healthy human flesh. In Castletown, 1895, another report stated, Once I asked Joci what he liked best to eat. He replied Talgoro (human flesh)
Carl Lumholtz in his report stated, Among cannibals On Herbert River expeditions are sometimes undertaken for the special purpose of securing Talgoro The Kalkadoons in their prime were reputedly not fussy, and would exhume bodies to eat, as did the emu-slippered peoples of central Australia. Babies, plump young women, and strong young warriors, including the so-called half-caste babies and youths were good eating in many parts of Australia. A half-caste born in western Queensland (recorded at Westlands Station on the Thompson River) was permitted to live for about three weeks thereupon it was roasted on the fire and distributed amongst those present, and eaten.
At Herberton 1882, he claims one of the Mourilyan Aborigines stated piccaninny makes quite a delicious meat North Queensland rainforest pygmies were well known for their cannibalism and would go out and tease the tall lanky aboriginals until they were chased back into the rainforest where they ambushed their pursuers. Of course, some werent quick enough to make it back to the rainforests either! tables were turned on local cannibals in the Cardwell area when plantation owners like Charles Eden bought slaves (Kanakas) from other Pacific Islands One by one all ten Aborigines were caught. The fires were lit and a great feast was held (Sunday foraging was the joke of the time).
In NSW, many instances were recorded on the Bollon and Mooni Creek regions of human burnings, meat eatings and collections of body fat juices. In Victoria, there are numerous reports that the Maneroo, Brajeracks, Narrinyeri, Merkani and the Tattiara were indeed cannibals and seekers of fat people to eat and to gather body fats. The reason? Their claim was that because father belonging to you and me that is, the ancestors did it; in other words, as a traditionary custom of which the meaning was lost. Ancestral mythologies from clans all over Australia even to the Altjiringa legends of the central Australian Aranda peoples, mention cannibalism as a common practice. Despite all of these known instances reported Australia-wide, political, self-interested individuals and associated organizations continue their search to erase all books and references that mention cannibalism and infanticide in Australia changing past histories to suit modern objectives is nothing new.
To all of these reports, we can now add the most in-depth instances where cannibalism was actively practiced amongst the Kabi clans of the Mary River Valley and nearby Cooloola Coast regions.
A report (edited) on the Kgutdhirri clan north of Gympie dated 29th June 1853 states:
An eyewitness report (edited) dated 5th August 1865 on the killing of a white man states:
The following is a report (edited) on the Kgakgari Clan dated 9th July 1853:
Another eyewitness report (edited) on the Kgakgari dated 11th June 1854 states:
Another eyewitness account on Frasers Island (edited) dated 28th and 29th July 1862 states:
These eye-witnessed reports are the only known record of ritual
cannibalism in relation to the Kabi clans of the Mary River Valley and
the Cooloola-Frasers Island region. It is not known if the Kabi clans south of
Noosa and south of Kenilworth in the upper Mary Valley participated in such activities.
One has to presume if one Kabi clan performed such rituals at one time all
others would have also.
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