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Reproduced courtesy of Margaret Munery

Tiwi armband with feather tuft

Date: 1995
380 x 150 mm, 0.015 kg
Medium: Pandanus, wax, cockatoo feathers
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Margaret Munery
Object Name: Armband
Object No: 00028983

User Terms

    A woven pandanus armband, or pamajini, was made by Tiwi artist Margaret Munery.
    Armbands such as this are ceremonial and worn by mourners during the Pukumani ceremony. This particular example features tufts of feathers from the cockatoo and Great Knot birds attached to the pandanus band by wax.
    The use of white cockatoo feathers is significant in 'pamajinis' at a Pukumani ceremony as the cockatoo is 'believed to keep a sentinel eye on wayward spirits lost on route to the island of the dead'.
    Significance“The Tiwi regard the Pukumani as the most important ceremony in a person’s life in the world of the living, and even though the Mobuditi (spirit of one dead) has been released, the person’s existence in the living world is not finished until the completion of the ceremony. To the Tiwi the entire focus of the ceremony is on the person now in the grave. This attitude results in the consistent variations in cast and script”. (Goodale, J. ‘Tiwi Wives’, University of Washington Press. 1971)

    HistoryThe Tiwi women are traditionally the makers of ceremonial bands. These armbands (pamajini) and headbands (japalingini) have been traditionally worn by mourners during the Pukumani ceremony in conjunction with body paint. The purpose of this disguise is to confuse the spirit of the deceased so it will not be able to recognise the mourners. Purukapali, the ancestral being who gave the Tiwi the Pukumani ceremony at the time of creation, decreed that the Tiwi wear these mourning bands.
    The Pukumani ceremony is still unique and central to modern Tiwi culture. It involves the placing of burial poles or 'Tutuni" on the deceased’s grave along with traditional songs and dances. Tiwi belief is that the first Pukumani ceremony was held by their ancestor Purukuparli for his child, Jinani, and the ceremony was necessary to ensure the deceased entered the spirit world.

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