- Museum number
Woman's head-band (murry-murry) of reddened vegetable fibre (yorring-er) or native flax string with pendant of mussel shell. String ties at either end. Red colour obtained by pounding red sandstone with gum of bloodwood tree and mixing with red clay.
- Production date
Length: 33 centimetres (excluding ties)
- Curator's comments
'Murry-murry (net band worn by a woman at a korobbery tied round her head with the pendant shell hanging between her eyes,) made by Mary (Nowunjunger Kobero Dalleburra). The blacks made string called “moa” from the fibre of the “yorring-er” (native flax), and an inferior kind of string called “peänna” from the fibre of the inner side of the bark of the kurrajong tree (the Dalleburra name for which is “uänna”; in time of drought the blacks used to dig up the roots of this tree and stand them in vessels to hold the water as it dripped from the roots). A black would roll two lengths of fibre backwards and forwards on his skin so that the lengths twined round each other, forming a neat, durable cord, which was used for making nets with small meshes, called “wood-yoo-nas,” for catching fish, wild ducks, flock pigeons etc., and large nets about five feet high, and from fifty to a hundred yards long for catching emus, - besides small net bands for ornaments. The murry-murries were stained terra-cotta colour with a plaster made by pounding red sandstone with the gum of the bloodwood tree, “tonga kamboona,” (tonga = gum, kamboona = bloodwood tree), and mixing the powder with red clay. They used this mixture for timmy-timmies and shields, also for painting themselves at korobberies, when one man would paint himself to resemble a carpet snake, and another would paint a kangaroo or emu on his chest with figures of birds, fish, small snakes, and so on. The blacks used also to rub themselves with emu oil and ground charcoal - the emu oil to prevent their skin from cracking in the dry hot weather, and ground charcoal being a non-conductor of heat; this made them appear much darker than they really were, and consequently many people described them erroneously as being black. A sea shell, obtained from the coast blacks in exchange for hard wood, which grows in the interior, or (as in this instance) part of a “peechy” (fresh water mussel) was strung to the middle of a “murry-murry.”'[Notes written in 1901 by Robert Christison - from Ethdoc 903].
Identification by Caroline Cartwright, April 2011:
two types of fibres used; one type from bark of Brachychiton sp. tree (either Brachychiton rupestre or Brachychiton populneus), kurrajong or bottle-tree, and the second type from Dianella sp., flax lily. The shell used is a modified freshwater mussel, Velesunio ambiguous.*
Prof. Joanne Wyngard helped with the shell identification.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1972-1982 23 Jun-28 Feb, London, BM, Museum of Mankind, The Aborigines of Australia
2011-2014 Jun-Jun, Canberra, National Museum of Australia, Landmarks: People and Places across 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
- Christison acquired this collection of 20 objects from his Lammermoor station in Queensland’s Mitchell District. At the time he donated them to the British Museum, he described them as ‘Weapons of the Dalleburra tribe whose chief camping ground was round the waterhole Narkool on Lower Tower Hill Creek, which is the main source of the Thomson River, Queensland, Latitude 20o S longitude 144o E’ (Ethdoc 903).
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number