Aboriginal boys' initiation ritual, Australia, 1798.
3 4 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm

Aboriginal boys' initiation ritual, Australia, 1798.

Neagle, J

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Engraving by Neagle. Men bearing other men on their shoulders move from side to side, 'lolling out their tongues and staring widely and horribly'. The boys (left) were then led over the bodies which writhed as if in agony, 'uttering a mournful dismal sound, like very distant thunder'. This part of the ritual, the 'boo-roo-moo-roong', ensured that the boys would now become brave fighters. From 'An account of the English colony in New South Wales: with remarks on the dispositions, customs, manners, &c, of the native inhabitants of that country' by David Collins (1756-1810), published in London, 1798-1802. Collins was Judge Advocate and Governor's Secretary under Arthur Phillip at the British colony at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, Australia, 1787-1796, and colonial governor of Tasmania, 1804-1810.



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