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Kom'bar (bark canoe)

Date: 2013
Dimensions:
Overall: 400 × 500 × 2800 mm
Medium: Swamp Mahogany bark, Lawyer cane, Paper bark, Cotton Tree rope, Spotted Gum and Hoop pine resin, bees wax and clay
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Object Name: Canoe
Object No: 00054529

User Terms

    Description
    Kom'bar - (bark canoe) was created by Brent Miller, Lyndon Davis and Kerry Jones, three artists from the Gubbi Gubbi Aboriginal language group of South East Queensland.
    Kom'bar was made specificaly for the East Coast Encounters exhibition providing a narrative of the view from the ship to the shore. It also acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal watercraft used at the time of the first contact. Kom'bar has been created using a blend of traditional and modern skills and materials.
    The importance of canoes and waterways feature in many stories and activities of the Gubbi Gubbi people. Brent Miller, Lyndon Davis and Kerry Jones use canoes as a vehicle for expressing and revitalizing Gubbi Gubbi culture.
    SignificanceThis piece provides an Aboriginal voice on European arrival and occupation. The canoe forms part of the East Coast Encounters exhibition giving us a narrative of the view from the ship to the shore. It also acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal watercraft used at the time of the first encounter with the Endeavour and its crew. The canoe has been created using a blend of traditional and modern skills and materials.
    HistoryWhen Cook first sited Aboriginal people in canoes at Kamay/Botany Bay, his impression was one of surprise at the simple, organic nature of the watercraft. Gradually, as he moved along the east coast, his attitude changed to one of admiration for the dexterity with which Indigenous people handled their canoes, the effectiveness of these watercraft and the ingenuity and economy of their design. Bark canoes were used by Aboriginal people for general transport, fishing and collecting shell fish and birds’ eggs from reed beds. When fishing in such canoes, women sat and used hooks and lines, while men stood to throw spears. A small fire was kept alight in the canoe on a bed of wet clay or seaweed. This kept people warm in winter and also allowed them to cook the fish they had caught.

    Across Australia single sheet bark canoes were made from the bark of Swamp She-oak Bangalay or Stringybark. Uniquely for the Kabi Kabi people (Sunshine Coast) it would seem the Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta) is the tree of choice. Traditionally, the single piece of bark was removed by using ground-edged hatchets and wooden mallets. An outline was cut in the tree and stone wedges were inserted around the edges and left there until the bark loosened. The bark was softened with water and fire, then folded and tied at both ends with plant-fibre rope. To repair damaged or leaking canoes, small holes were patched with resin from different species of Xanthorrhoea (Grass Trees). Large holes may have been patched with the leaves of the Cabbage Tree Palm (Livistona australis) or with Paperbark (Melaleuca). A patch was sewn on with string or animal sinew and molten resin was used to make it watertight. The light material and the shallowness of the canoe made its design appropriate for use in the calm water of rivers and estuaries. It could also have been used by an experienced person in choppy water outside estuaries.


    Additional Titles

    Collection title: East Coast Encounters collection

    Assigned title: Kom'bar (bark canoe)

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