Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Bag (pilli wondura) made of string (flax), human hair. Looped netbag.

  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 19thC - 20thC (early) (before 1905)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 34 centimetres
    • Width: 47 centimetres
    • Depth: 1 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Diyari men from central Australia, near Lake Eyre, have traditionally made a great variety of different netbags. They used some to carry personal belongings, such as stones, string and ochre. Some were used to carry food, including fat, meat and fish. Others were worn partly as a decoration and partly as special insignia belonging to a clan group.A label in HJ Hillier's hand attached to the bag reads 'pilli wondura'; also see related collection listing in Ethdoc 903.


  • Bibliography

    • Bolton 2011 p.69 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    2011 26 May-11 Sep, London, BM, G91, Baskets and Belonging: Indigenous Australian Histories

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    15 June 2011

    Reason for treatment

    Temporary Exhibition

    Treatment proposal

    Clean. Re-shape.


    The basket is slightly misshapen. It is slightly dusty. Two labels are attached to the handle with a string.

    Treatment details

    The labels were removed for treatment.

    A low-powered museum vacuum was used with a soft brush to gently remove the soiling. Then, the basket was further cleaned by gently pressing a Chemsponge/smoke sponge (vulcanized rubber molecular trap, containing a minuscule percentage of mild soap i.e. <30grm per 500kg) onto the surface of the object.

    To re-shape the basket, it was padded with Bondina H3228 (non woven polyester) and crumpled nylon net, and placed into a humidity chamber, set between 75-90% RH, for 4 hours. Raising the RH of the plant fibres and hair increasing the basket’s pliability, enabling it to be re-shaped. A padded insert was made in undyed silk fabric with polyester wadding inside to hold the shape of the bag.

    After treatment the labels were re-attached to the handle with a cotton thread.

    Treated by Melina Plottu

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    This is one of 75 Aboriginal objects from Killapaninna and Hermannsburg in Central Australia which the British Museum bought from Mrs Sarah Hillier in 1908. The material was acquired by HJ Hillier, Sarah Hillier’s son, who worked as an English and art teacher at two South Lutheran Mission stations in South Australia, firstly at Killalpaninna (1893-1905) and then at Hermannsburg (1906-1910). The British Museum also purchased collections of similar material from Hillier in 1910 and 1911.

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


Bag made of string (flax), human hair.

Bag made of string (flax), human hair.

Image description



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Object reference number: EOC12612

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