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Aboriginal Australian Love, a non-fiction book by Henry Theophilus Finck

Naked And Not Ashamed

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_ "They are as innocent of shame as the animals of the forest," says E. Palmer; and J. Bonwick writes: "Nakedness is no shame with them. As a French writer once remarked to a lady, 'With a pair of gloves you could clothe six men.'" Even ornaments are worn by the men only: "females are content with their natural charms." W.E. Roth, in his standard work on the Queensland natives, says that "with both sexes the privates are only covered on special public occasions, or when in close proximity to white settlements." With the Warburton River tribe (Curr, II, 18) "the women go quite naked, and the men have only a belt made of human hair round the waist from which a fringe spun of hair of rats hangs in front." Sturt wrote (I., 106): "The men are much better looking than the women; both go perfectly naked."

At the dances a covering of feathers or leaves is sometimes worn by the women, but is removed as soon as the dance is over. Narrinyeri girls, says Taplin, "wear a sort of apron of fringe, called Kaininggi, until they bear their first child. If they have no children it is taken from them and burned by their husbands while they are asleep." Meyer says the same of the Encounter Bay tribe, and similar customs prevailed at Port Jackson and many other places. Summing up the observations of Cook, Turnbull, Cunningham, Tench, Hunter, and others, Waitz remarks (VI., 737):

"In the region of Sydney, too, the natives used to be
entirely nude, and as late as 1816 men would go about
the streets of Paramatta and Sydney naked, despite many
prohibitions and attempts to clothe them, which always

--so ingrained was the absence of shame in the native mind.

Jackman, the "Australian Captive," an Englishman who spent seventeen months among the natives, describes them as being "as nude as Adam and Eve" (99). "The Australians' utter lack of modesty is remarkable," writes F. Mueller:

"it reveals itself in the way in which their clothes
are worn. While an attempt is made to cover the upper,
especially the back part of the body, the private parts
are often left uncovered."

One early explorer, Sturt (II., 126), found the natives of the interior, without exception, "in a complete state of nudity."

The still earlier Governor Philipps (1787) found that the inhabitants of New South Wales had no idea that one part of the body ought to be covered more than any other. Captain Flinders, who saw much of Australia in 1795, speaks in one place (I., 66) of "the short skin cloak which is of kangaroo, and worn over the shoulders, leaving the rest of the body naked." This was in New South Wales. At Keppel Bay (II., 30) he writes: "These people ... go entirely naked;" and so on at other points of the continent touched on his voyage. In Dawson we read: "They were perfectly naked, as they always are." Nor has the Australian in his native state changed in the century or more since whites have known him. In the latest book on Central Australia (1899) by Spencer and Gillen we read that to this day a native woman "with nothing on except an ancient straw hat and an old pair of boots is perfectly happy." _

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