- Museum number
Two human figures, one sitting on the right shoulder of the other. Made of wood, cord of rush or bast, hair, cotton-like cord, vegetable fibre, coix seeds, pearl-shell, cone shell. Upper figure has ringlets of dark red hair, the lower has tufts of white cotton-like cord. Eyes are pieces of pearl shell. Tufts of fibre in the ears strung with halves of seed-shells. End of cone shell attached to neck of lower figure. Details of faces painted with red, white and blue pigment.
- Production date
- 19thC (before 1865)
Diameter: 18.50 centimetres
Height: 75 centimetres
Width: 16 centimetres
- Curator's comments
An addition to registration slip dated 11 October 1889 states:
'A.W. Bence (residing in Torres Straits) came today with Professor A.C. Haddon and on seeing this specimen stated that a few years ago a story was current in the Straits of the existence of twins joined together at birth, much like the figures represented here. So much was the story believed that a man named 'German Harry' was anxious to start off to kidnap them [illegible] natural. C.H.R '
Fraser 1978 describes this item as 'a small wood carving of relatively recent date...has been identified tentatively as a man carrying a child by Haddon, who rejects an old interpretation as Siamese twins. Of soft brown wood wrapped with leaf braid...has the active animation of Plate 74 and a plastic freedom unprecedented in Erub wood sculpture'.
A speculative interpretation for this object relates to a myth relating to a leader named Paiwer and his son Burwak who were turned to stone on a sand bank, Maizab Kaur (that is, Bramble Cay) with the son on his shoulders. See M. Lawrie, Myths and Legends of Torres Strait, pp.282-4.
Visitors from Erub Arts on 14 June 2019 suggested that these figures relate to the story from Bramble Cay.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1993, London, Hayward Gallery, Aratjara: Aboriginal Art from Australia
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 date
- Acquisition notes
- From a collection made by Julius Brenchley which was divided among Maidstone Museum, the British Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum and Exeter Museum.
Register slip reads:
Presd. by Julius L. Brenchley Esq 24.3.1870 (M.)
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: Oc1870C1.6537 (old CDMS no.)
Miscellaneous number: Oc1870C0324.76