The Arunta, A Study of a Stone Age People, Spencer, Sir Baldwin; F.J. Gillen Published by Macmillan and Co. Ltd., St. Martin’s Street, London, 1927. First Edition. Two volumes. 8vo up to 9½” tall. Paged continuously: xxviii, 390; xvi, 391-646pp plus plates; bibliographical references and index. Paged continuously: xxviii, 390; xvi, 391-646pp plus plates. Hundreds of black and white plates, illustrations and diagrams in both volumes. Volume One has large folding map with title tissue overlay; Volume Two has double-paged colour plates and a fold out colour plate of Ceremonial Objects with title tissue overlay. Green cloth boards with gilt spine titles; top edge gilt. Contents of both volumes are in near mint condition with pages presenting as bright, white and unmarked. Small closed tear to gutter of fold out map Volume One not affecting map itself; tiny closed tear and fore edge ruffle page 273, Volume One; small chip edge of rear free endpaper Volume Two. Very light wear to boards; binding is tight and square.
The Arunta is considered a seminal anthropological study of aboriginal Australians. Gillen and Spencer developed their collection at a time when Aboriginal people in Central Australia were relatively unaffected by European contact (between 1875 and 1912) and as such constitutes one of the most comprehensive inventories of a regional Aboriginal group in existence. Their objective was to provide ‘as complete an account as possible of the organization, customs, beliefs and general culture of a people that affords as much insight as we are now ever likely to gain into the manner of life of men and women who have long since disappeared in other parts of the world’. Contents include: Social Organisation; Local Organisation; The Totems; Totemic Topography; Churinga; Lending and Returning Churinga; Mbanbiuma and Intichiuma Ceremonies; Initiation Ceremonies; Traditions of the Alchera and Alchera ancestors; Achlpa traditions; Tradition of Numbakulla and of the origin of Churinga and Kuruna. 002665