- Museum number
Basket (tunga) made of bark, vegetable fibre and decorated with natural red, white and yellow pigments.
- Production date
- 1926 (before)
Height: 70 centimetres
Width: 43 centimetres
Depth: 33 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Notes from Ian Coates from the National Museum of Australia Nov 2012: In 1926, JS Litchfield described this objects as a 'Large warragadu, made of bark & sewn with string from vine. (sometimes used as baby-carrier).' - From an undated note by JS Litchfield – BM Dept of Africa, Oceania and the Americas Correspondence Files.
During consultations conducted with Tiwi Islanders at Jilamara Arts Centre and Munupi Arts and Crafts in June 2011, this object was described as a ‘tunga’. It is most commonly made from a piece of folded bark from a stringybark tree. The sides are sewn together using a wallaby bone or awl called 'kamuna' in Tiwi. The string used to tie the sides together would come from either a vine creeper, roots of the banyan tree or the outside skin of a shrub.
'Large warragadu, made of bark & sewn with string from vine. (sometimes used as baby-carrier).' from an undated note by JS Litchfield - AOA Correspondence Files.
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 pigments and 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 & 2011,2014.1
1926 Register comments:
Known as 'Warragadee'. Sometimes used as baby carrier. Melville Island.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2011 26 May-11 Sep, London, BM, G91, Baskets and Belonging: Indigenous Australian Histories
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number