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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Basket made of folded bark. This type of basket is known as a tunga.

  • Date

    • c 1900 (late 19th or early 20th century)
  • 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

    • Bolton 2011 p.24 and 25 bibliographic details
  • Location


  • 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

  • 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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