Aboriginal traditional craft of Kakadu/ West Arnhemland

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 18:44
ThreadID: 55181 Views:4675 Replies:9 FollowUps:1
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Hi there!
Anja here, Steve's Beloved.

While my two men went on their road trip in January, I happily stayed behind to enjoy the peace and quiet...

...and the time with my dear friend Patsy.
She is a traditional Aboriginal lady, earning her living during the dry season as tour guide with Sean and Rachael from Kakadu Animal Tracks. Obviously, during the season we're all very busy and don't often get the time to catch up.

I feel extremely privileged that Patsy has taken the time over the last two months to teach me some crafts and techniques, like making a "dilly bag" the traditional way, made with string from the inner bark of the Red-flowered Kurrajong (Brachyton paradoxum).

After peeling the bark off the trees and pounding it until soft with the back of her trusted axe, the inner bark can be separated from the rougher outer.

Several different agents can be used to dye the fibres, for example the berries of little herb called bloodroot for a magenta/purple colour. The bulbs of the same plant produce a brown dye.

Steve has helped me documenting the process of making my very first string bag. Maybe you're interested in the pics...



This is going to become a bag...


...separating the Kurrajong fibres...



...string...



...going loopy...


...voila!

In comparison, here is a bag Patsy finished a few weeks ago:


In the meantime, Patsy has been working on a "feather bag", made with the same material and additionally feathers worked into the string.



This type of bag is used during ceremonies.



A relative of hers is currently working on another ceremonial bag. It is made from Pandanus spiralis.
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Reply By: Member - bushfix - Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 19:09

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 19:09
G'day Anja,

yes I am interested, thanks for posting these.

beautiful work and importantly, your photos show the hands, what amazing tools they are.

my Mother (rip) was a fantastic knitter but also loved her tapestry and weaving.

with kind regards to you and Patsy,

Jeremy.
AnswerID: 290797

Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 19:17

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 19:17
Great photo's Anja, truly great creations from the basics of our surroundings, next time we visit we may have to come see what you and Patsy have created.

Bonz
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Reply By: blue one - Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 20:35

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 20:35
Wow,
Talented people irritate me. Only because I can't do what they do.

LOL
AnswerID: 290809

Reply By: Andrew from Vivid Adventures - Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 21:12

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 21:12
Wonderful Anja.
Thanks so much for the post
Andrew.
AnswerID: 290820

Reply By: Jim from Best Off Road - Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 21:33

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 21:33
Anja,

We can only hope that such skills are passed on.

So much has been lost in these days of mechanisation.

Jim.
AnswerID: 290822

Reply By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 21:43

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 21:43
Anja ,

You did a great job on that bag , especially for your first effort . Very clever lady - even smarter for being interested enough to want to have a go .

About 12 years ago , I bought one out at Maningrida . It is woven so tight , I believe it would hold water without leaking a drop .

I am fascinated by the work in the stone tools . I once saw a Kimberley Point made out of brown bottle glass . The work was exquisite , all done with pressure . All this knowledge is disappearing though - very frustrating , very sad .

Willie .
AnswerID: 290825

Follow Up By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 21:47

Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008 at 21:47
PS

Anja ,

I guess I used to do a slightly similar thing to you . I used to buy iron wood aboriginal tools from a Darwin man - digging sticks and boomerangs - then finish them . They were nothing like authentic , but they were stunningly beautiful , with a mirror finish .

I had to stop though , as the iron wood was poisonous and made me very sick - dumb me !

Willie
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Reply By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2008 at 03:14

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2008 at 03:14
Hi Anja, thanks so much for the post, I find crafts like that so interesting and as others have said the art of all these crafts is slowly dying as the younger ones seem to be losing interest in them, having said that my daughter has dragged me into patchwork and quilting something I never thought I would do.

Hope to see more of your posts

Cheers

D


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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 05, 2008 at 11:02

Wednesday, Mar 05, 2008 at 11:02
Great legs too.

I'm glad I ain't too scared to be lazy
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Reply By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 06, 2008 at 20:33

Thursday, Mar 06, 2008 at 20:33
Anja,

Thanks, Thats bloody good..... I love seeing that stuff.....

Peter
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