Biraban and Aboriginal Honour

1840c Biraban and Aboriginal Honour. On points of honour, Biraban is very sensitive. One day he tells Threlkeld that he must go to “stand my punishment as a man of honor, though I have done no wrong”. Biraban is responding to a “hostile message” he receives from an offended party via an elderly woman. Biraban accepts the “daring challenge”. The weapons are named (cudgel, shield and spear) and the time is appointed. One day when the sun is one quarter high on a plain near Threlkeld’s mission, messengers are despatched to gather in distant tribes who light signal-fires on mountain-tops to announce their approach to witness the affair of honor. The tribes assemble and an explanation ensues. As is the custom, Biraban) stoops to offer his head for the offended party to strike him with his weapon. He rises shaking blood from his bushy hair, his opponent fairly and honourably bends forward his own head, and presents it in return to receive his blow. This reciprocally continues until assembled parties and combatants are satisfied. Should either strike dishonourably (any other way than on the fairly offered cranium) a shower of well-directed spears is sent against the cowardly assailant who breaches the laws of honor. An evening dance and supper of game peacefully terminates the business of the day.