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The otiose sky father of the Aranda tribes in central Australia. He is conceived of as a man in the sky with feet like an emu; his wives and daughters have feet like dogs. Strange or malformed feet are a common feature of spirits or ancestors in aboriginal belief. Witness such epithets as ‘foot dog’, ‘foot body’, ‘toes-feet-rough’, and ‘bone foot’, Altjira is erina itja arbamanakala, ‘him none made’. His name is also connected with the verb to dream; he is, therefore, looked upon as the remote deity of the ‘dream time’, when the subterranean ancestral spirits left their slumber to roam the earth. Altjira gave the world its present form and then removed himself to the top of the sky, while the other ‘eternal ones of the dream’ sank back into their earthly abode. The Aranda say that today Altjira is indifferent to mankind.

Subjects: Religion.

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