Does the heart burn? (Australian Aborigines)

My bf asked last night how the following was possible. (and I’m asking if it’s even true).

According to him, when an aborigine passes away, they burn his/her body, but they save the heart after the body was burned. So he was asking how the heart doesn’t burn but the body does.

So, there are a couple questions here.
1)Do the Australian Aborigines practice (or have practiced) this?
2)Do they remove the heart first and that’s how it’s not burned (contingent on “yes” to #1)
3)If the above answers are “yes” and “no”, how is it that the heart doesn burn?

There was never any one Australian aboriginal culture but funerary rites usually meant burial rather than cremation. Where cremation occurred the heart wasn’t removed and it would have burnt like any other muscle tissue.

I don’t know the answers to your questions. However a few facts may be informative.

Australian Aborigines include many differing peoples. The situation is analogous to the Indian Nations of the US.

As far as rites are concerned it is unlikely that a particular one is common to all those peoples.

One thing that is common is a great deal of cultural sensitivity in matters of death. For example there are sacred knowledges that are only told to people who have been appropriately initiated.

In this sense the question is awkward.

The Funeral of Shelley -

I’ve heard a story that a cat stole the heart from a table a ran off with it “I was never able to look that cat in the face again” said Mary (can’t remember where I heard that!)

That reminds me of the movie Return of the Living Dead in one part they try to cremate a corpse that was reanimated and the mortician mentions that the heart is hard to burn because it one tough muscle…maybe it is some kind of urban legend.

I don’t see any especially insensitive about the question. One can simply choose not to answer.
I do seem to remember (vaguely) something about a heart being hard to burn, although it may be UL.

I have never heard of indigenous Australians cremating at all, let alone doing something particular with the heart. It may have been a practice by a group of indigenous Australians at some time. I don’t think it could be done now without me having heard of it somehow.

UL, or only grounded very lightly in reality, I’d say.

Is the main question whether or not native Australians cremated the dead, or is it whether or not a heart is especially difficult to burn.

The bigger question is, does the heart burn? The basis for that was that my bf heard (what is most likely apparently a legend/myth/pile of b.s.) that it was the Australian Aborgines. No slight was intended towards them in my OP at all.

Death is regarded as one of the most taboo topics (far more so than in the West) and accordingly, details of funerary rites are more guarded than other aspects of indigenous culture. For example, the state run media preface images and the use of dead people’s names with a warning to that effect.

Because it is a taboo topic, the details of funerary rites are more closely guarded than other aspects of indigenous culture. Therefore, much of the white understanding comes from archaeological evidence and independent piecing together of material. Two of the most import archaeological finds in Australia were Mungo Man and Lady Mungo who were both cremated.

As to whether the heart burns, well I’ve never had a problem with them when disposing of kangaroo carcasses. The bones last the longest but they’ll disintegrate too if the fire is big and hot enough and lasts long enough.

A simple question, I don’t think, should be regarded as insensitive. But to pry, even after learning that the subject is tender, might well be. The OP backed off as soon as it was revealed that that was the case. Most people, I find, are pretty cool.

To the best of my knowledge all recent Aboriginal societies practised cremation, or more properly immolation. The common procedure was to burn the corpse to some degree and then place what remained in a safe spot such as a hollow log or buried shallow under rocks until the flesh had decayed. The bones were then formally interred in a permanent spot.

That’s a pretty general overview of diverse cultures, but I’m unaware of any Aboriginal culture that didn’t practice something of that sort.

I’ve also never heard anyone suggest that funerary arrangements are a sensitive topic to any Aboriginal group. To some groups it is rude to speak the names of dead people, and the specific religious practices involved are also held to be secret by most groups, but the general mortuary practices are not something I’ve heard described as sensitive anywhere outside this message board. Certainly there are plenty of accounts of Aborigines talking about their practices. If anyone has any evidence that this is the case for Aborigines generally I’d like to see it.
Anyway the fact that most groups practiced only partial cremation would easily explain why the heart could be recovered after burning.

I can’t answer re: Australian aborigines, but it’s certainly possible to burn a body without the heart being burnt. According to Jewish legend, the Romans once burned a great Rabbi to death and surrounded his heart with wet sponges so that his death would be slower and more painful.