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© Christine Wilson/Licenced by Viscopy, 2017

Tunga bag (Wangatunga and Yimwarlini)

Date: 1995
615 x 400 x 335 mm, 1.75 kg
Medium: Ochres, stringybark, pandanus leaves
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Christine Wilson
Classification:Ceremonial artefact
Object Name: Bag
Object No: 00019478
Place Manufactured:Melville Island

User Terms

    This tunga bag (Wangatunga and Yimwarlini) was made by Blanche Puruntatmeri and painted by Christine Wilson.
    The tunga bag was placed on the tutini at the end of the Pukumani ceremony. It is made from two pieces of stringybark sewn together at the sides with pandanus fibres. Cross hatched pandanus fibres also line the rim of the bag. Bag has one handle attached at the top made from pandanus fibre and woven in a plait formation. The bag has been painted in mustard coloured ochres in patterns of dots and lines.

    Region: East Kimberley
    Community: Balgo
    Craft Centre: Warlayirti Artists
    Language: Kukatja
    Social Category: Nungala
    SignificanceThe Tiwi have three significant ceremonies that are performed on the islands.These are the Kulama (sacred yam ceremony), the Iliana (funeral ceremony) and the Pukamani (mortuary ceremony). The Pukamani ceremony has been practised since the first death of a human, Tjinani, and is held months after the burial or Iliana ceremony.
    HistoryBurial rituals (Pukumani) are based on the teachings of ancestral spirits. The elaborately carved and painted poles (tutini) are placed around the grave of a Tiwi person.

    The poles are commissioned by the dead person's family along with new songs, dances and body paint designs. The works placate the spirit of the dead and ensure safe travel to the spirit world where it will dwell forever. Tunga (woven and painted bark baskets) are placed on top of poles at the end of the Pukumani funeral ceremony to signify the end of life. Each tutini is made from a single piece of carved bloodwood or ironwood that is intricately painted with natural ochres in abstract patterns unique to the Tiwi. The base is left bare as it is inserted into the ground.

    Early in the 20th century the Tiwi were moved into towns under the administration of non-Indigenous people and the Pukumani ceremony was banned. In 1976 the Tiwi regained control of their land under the Northern Territory Land Rights Act and this has led to a cultural revival of the Pukumani ceremony and some include Christian elements in the ritual.

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