Friday Foofaraw: April 29, 2017

I found something really cool on Wikipedia the other day.

A Kurdaitcha, among the Aranda group of indigenous Australians, is a kind of ritual hit-man. Their job is to carry out a curse on an enemy via a ‘bone-pointing’ ritual (a form of which is generally common to many different groups of Aboriginal people).

The ritual is carried out by first preparing the cursing bone, which is generally animal bone, though sometimes human bone or a sharpened stick is used. The preparation is often a complicated process which usually involves coating it in rotting meat or other foul substances. The Kurdaitcha then dons a pair of special shoes, made of feathers held together by human blood and fastened to the foot with human hair; these shoes are said to leave no tracks. Before putting them on, one would first hold a fire-heated stone to the ball of the pinkie toe to soften up the joint, and then sharply pull the toe toward the outside of the foot, dislocating it. The dislocated toe is then inserted through a special hole in the shoe. The shoes themselves and the rituals surrounding them are highly secretive and cannot be witnessed by women or children, but medical examinations have shown evidence of the dislocation in people who have claimed to be Kurdaitchas. You can see pictures of the shoes online if you search for them, but since it’s taboo to look at them, someone somewhere would presumably be pissed to know that these pictures are out there, so I’m not going to post them here. You can look them up yourself if you’re comfortable making that decision, you insensitive brute.

Once the shoes are donned, the Kurdaitcha hunts down the intended target, taking years to do so if necessary. Once the victim is found, the Kurdaitcha drops to one knee and points the cursing bone at the target, who witnesses the curse; death follows not long afterward. The cause of death may be, in modern parlance, ‘psychosomatic’, ie. with no apparent medical cause, the victim grows anxious and listless and simply wastes away and dies (it’s worth noting that this is basically what would happen if he was, you know, actually cursed.) Some variants on the ritual involve scratching or piercing the victim with the bone, which could cause death via infection if the bone has been coated in filthy substances, as is often the case. Some Kurdaitchas killed more directly, albeit still stealthily, by crafting a long, thin, sharp lance from a kangaroo bone, sneaking up on a sleeping victim and driving it through the nape of their neck and into the chest where it pierces the heart. When the bone is removed, the tiny flap of skin is pushed back in place so that the wound doesn’t bleed and can barely even be seen.

In 2004, Australian PM John Howard was the recipient of a politically-oriented bone-pointing curse. The Wikipedia article rather snarkily remarks “As of 2017, John Howard is still alive”, which is a kind of douchey thing to mention. Congratulations, outsider, you sure taught those idiots a lesson about how ridiculous and wrong their beliefs are! That’ll teach them, for… uh… daring to preserve and recontextualize their culture’s history and traditions despite centuries of European colonialist oppression? Go team The West!

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