- Museum number
- Object: Tunga
Basket (tunga) made of bark and vegetable fibre and painted in natural pigments of white, yellow, red, grey and brown ochres. Decoration consists of diagonal lines filled with repetitive smaller lines, and circles of colour around the edges.
- Production date
Height: 70 centimetres
Width: 29.20 centimetres
Depth: 31.50 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. This piece is a contemporary version of traditional funerary baskets that have been produced in the Tiwi Islands for thousands of years.
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.
See object file in the AOA department for more information on these objects and also see 2012,2031.1
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2011 26 May-11 Sep, London, BM, G91, Baskets and Belonging: Indigenous Australian Histories
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Purchased from the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in March 2011, towards the 2011 British Museum exhibition 'Baskets and Belonging'.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number