The Presence of Tobacco as Culture in Aboriginal Tribes

image: Pinterest

Tobacco is generally used as a cigarette raw material that we often encounter everywhere. Its massive presence makes tobacco known to the public.

The function of tobacco is currently recreational, which is only to satisfy personal desires. Apparently since long time ago, tobacco has used for some cultural things. The aboriginal tribe is one of examples.

Aborigin Smoking Ceremony

The tribe that settled in the Australian continent is indeed known to have a close relationship with tobacco.

Aboriginal people even include tobacco as one of the four holy plants juxtaposed with red cedar, sweet grass, and sage.

The Aboriginal people are the indigenous people who settle in Australia before white people came. This tribe is well-known for their throwing weapon called boomerang or their very unique animal motif cloth.

Besides, Aboriginal people are also known for their varied tobacco consumption. The range of consumption can be divided into several types.

Aboriginal Smoking
image: Pinterest

The following are various forms of Aboriginal tobacco consumption.

    1. Recreationa
      In general, tobacco is used as cigarettes by Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people are widely known for their fondness for smoking.According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics survey, there are 41% smokers from all Aboriginal residents. The 41% figure covers the age group of 15th and above.This large number requires the Australian government to intervene to help reducing the number of smokers in Australia.
    2. Ritual
      Besides it is used for recreational needs, tobacco is (since long time ago) used i some Aboriginal traditional ceremonies.This is including used for birth ceremonies, marriage, death and prayer rituals or other rituals. The ways to use it are also varied, but mostly the tobacco is burned. The smoke of the burning tobacco is not inhaled, but it is specially served to God.For instance, in Aboriginal hunting rituals, if the hunter gets something in the hunting, s/he will burn tobacco as a form of gratitude to The Creator and also a form of gratitude to the animal.
    3. Healing
      In one of Australia’s most popular shows on TV, Aboriginal healers say that there are several methods of using tobacco to heal Aboriginal people.
    4. Traditional Sauna
      This method is used to cleanse and treat the people of Aboriginal. As the name implied, this method is done in a small hut where the four sacred plants (tobacco, sweet grass, sage, and red cedar) are burned for the ritual.
    5. Lubrication
      This method is done by burning the sacred plants in a bowl. Then, the Aboriginal people put their hands on the burning smoke, and smear their body or the part that needs to be treated by using that concoction.

Tobacco nowadays is used by Aboriginal people mostly only limited to the recreational function.

Before, tobacco was used specifically for customary needs. In addition to customary needs, tobacco was also believed to cure a disease if it was traditionally produced.

According to research, cigarette that is made traditionally do have a great healing effect when it is processed like the Aboriginal ancestors. However, just like a drug, the excessive use will have a negative impact on health.

Some Aboriginal custom leaders argue that the excessive tobacco consumption for recreational is also unhealthy, dangerous, and pollutes the tradition of using tobacco.

Now, the use of tobacco as a treatment is rarely carried out by the people of Aboriginal descent because the health technology is more advanced beyond the traditional means.

Therefore, tobacco use in Australia (especially Aboriginal people) is mostly for recreational needs only.


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