Australian Aboriginal Kinship - The Subsection or 'skin Name' System - Systems With Eight Skin Groups (subsection Systems) - Lardil


The Lardil of Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria have eight skin groups, shown here with some of their totems:

Male skin group Totems May marry only
female skin group
Children will be
Ngarrijbalangi Rainbird, shooting star,
Burrarangi Bangariny
Bangariny Brown shark, turtle Yakimarr Ngarrijbalangi
Buranyi Crane, salt water,
sleeping turtle
Kangal Balyarriny
Balyarriny Black tiger shark,
sea turtle
Kamarrangi Buranyi
Burrarangi Lightning, rough sea,
black dingo
Ngarrijbalangi Kamarrangi
Yakimarr Seagull, barramundi,
grey shark
Bangariny Kangal
Kangal Barramundi,
grey shark
Buranyi Yakimarr
Kamarrangi Rock, pelican, brolga,
red dingo
Balyarriny Burrarangi

Each Lardil person belongs to one of these groups. Their paternal grandfather's skin group determines their own; so a Balyarriny man or woman will have a Balyarriny grandfather. A Ngarrijbalangi man may marry only a Burrarangi woman, a Bangariny a Yakimarr, a Buranyi a Kangal and a Balyarriny a Kamarrangi, and vice versa for each.

Once a person's skin group is known, their relationship to any other Lardil can be determined. A Ngarrijbalangi is a 'father' to a Bangariny, a 'father-in-law' to a Yakimarr and a 'son' to another Bangariny, either in a social sense or purely through linearship.

The mechanics of the Lardil skin system means that generations of males cycle back and forth between two skins. Ngarrijbalangi is father to Bangariny and Bangariny is father to Ngarrijbalangi and similarly for the three other sets of skins. Generations of women, however, cycle through four skins before arriving back at the starting point. This means that a woman has the same skin name as her (matrilineal) great-great-grandmother.

Read more about this topic:  Australian Aboriginal Kinship, The Subsection or 'skin Name' System, Systems With Eight Skin Groups (subsection Systems)

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