Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Basket (tunga) made of folded eucalyptus bark, vegetable cane fibre, abrus seeds, resin and decorated with natural red, white and yellow pigments.

  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 1913 (before)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 67.4 centimetres
    • Width: 50.7 centimetres
    • Diameter: 40.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Tiwi Islanders carry out elaborate Pukumani ceremonies after a person’s death. These funerary ceremonies include elaborate body decoration, complex burial rites and numerous performances. They can take place over a lengthy period of time in order to fully mark the passing of that relative as well as express grief.

    Burial poles or tutini are painted with natural earth pigmentsand erected at specific grave sites: they represent the body of the deceased relative or possibly ancestors.

    Large bark baskets or tunga are also made specifically for these ceremonies. Various designs or jilmara, are painted on the body as well as on the baskets and burial poles. These designs can relate to a person’s identity, clan, country or dreaming. Gifts of food are brought to the funeral in tunga, and at the conclusion of the ceremony, they are upended on top of painted tutini. The painted tunga and tutini stand as a memorial to the deceased and their relatives and are left to be worn away by the elements.

    Artists continue to make tunga, often for commercial sale and use innovative interpretations of traditional beliefs.
    For contemporary versions see 2012,2032.1 & 2011,2014.1The bark is likely Darwin stringybark [Eucalyptus tetrodonta]


  • Bibliography

    • Sculthorpe et al. 2015 p.100, fig.89 bibliographic details
    • National Museum of Australia 2015 p.209 bibliographic details
    • Bolton 2011 p.24 and 25 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G24/dc2

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited: 1972-1982 23 Jun-28 Feb, London, BM, Museum of Mankind, The Aborigines of Australia 2011 26 May-11 Sep, London, BM, G91, Baskets and Belonging: Indigenous Australian Histories 2015 23 Apr-2 Aug, London, BM, G35, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation
    2015-2016 27 Nov-28 Mar, Canberra, National Museum of Australia, Encounters

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Oc1913C3.145 (old CDMS no.)
Basket made of bark.

Basket made of bark.

Image description



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Object reference number: EOC13980

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