Monday, May 18, 2009

Tribal art - Nine baskets you've never seen before

Just about every culture with access to vegetation has had a basket-making history. Among them are the Aborigines of Central Australia.

With little or no resources for pottery-making, a nomadic lifestyle that required regular movement from campsite to campsite and extensive pandanus fiber resources, Australian Aborigines have a rich and vital basket-making tradition.

Even today, at least as recently as the 1990s, Aborigines were weaving baskets for everyday needs such as gathering foods, carrying possessions and even providing shelter for children, and for sale to basket and ethnographic art collectors.

Pandanus fiber, ochres,
dyed emu feathers

Beautiful, colorful, intricately woven baskets are produced by hand throughout Aboriginal Australia. Some the most striking are created in the Northern Territory area of Arnhem Land, served by art and cultural centers at Maningrida and Nhulumbuy.

The baskets are predominantly coiled, string or "dilly" bags. They are woven from various natural fibers such as those made from the leaves of the pandanus plant, the bark of trees like Kurrajong, Brachychiton diversifolius, Brachychiton paradoxum and Ficus virens.

These fibers are dyed in vivid oranges, yellows, reds, blacks and purples by boiling in ground up roots of plants like Pogonolobus reticulatus and wood ash from Eucalyptus alba.

Maningrida is a small community that sits on the remote northern coast of Australia's Arnhem Land at the estuary of the Liverpool River. During much of the year the community can be reached only by light aircraft. Nhulumbuy, also known as Gove, is an area where bauxite has been mined. It also situated on the northern coast and is reachable primarily by air, especially during the wet season.

We acquired several Australian Aboriginal baskets for our personal collection starting in 1990, in villages and towns of the Northern Territory. We have decided (reluctantly) to release these baskets for sale. You can learn more about them, which are shown in thumbnails below, and access a larger photograph of each, by clicking on each image.

W762 dilly bag

KC40 emu feather basket

CC20 dilly bag

W036 collecting bag

W764 collecting bag

W824 parrot feather bag

K128 canoe shape basket

W826 collecting basket and child cover

You may see these and other Australian Aboriginal baskets at our TribalWorks online gallery. We invite you to visit and share our passion for the ingenious weaving of these resourceful people.


SighNetDollars said...

Nice basket...

alicia27 said...

Absolutely beautiful!