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Tail spike from stingray

Date: 1917 - 1933
Dimensions:
280 x 13 mm, 0.04 kg
Medium: Bone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Philip MacFarlane
Object Name: Tail spike
Object No: 00018244
Place Manufactured:Torres Strait

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    Description
    A tail spike from a stingray collected from Torres Strait Island, Australia.
    This tail spike was collected by the Reverend and Mrs MacFarlane whilst serving as missionaries on Erub (Darnley) Island in Tores Strait from 1917 - 1933.
    SignificanceOn the many islands in the Torres Strait wood for carving is rare. People on the islands look for alternative materials from the sea. Drift wood was often used and transformed to produce dramatic carvings like masks for their ceremonies.
    HistoryThe Reverend William MacFarlane was an Anglican missionary who, with his wife Gwen MacFarlane, worked in the Torres Strait Islands from 1917 until 1933, mainly at the Erub (Darnley) Island Mission.
    During his service he kept detailed diaries and notes on the work of the Mission as well as on the culture of the Islanders, their legends and history, which included many references to individual Islanders and families.
    The MacFarlanes wrote and broadcast about their experiences and Torres Strait Island culture in a series of magazine articles and on ABC radio, until Reverend MacFarlane's death in 1963.
    While at the Mission, Reverend MacFarland contributed notes and photographs to Dr A. C. Haddon, which were incorporated in the ethnography volume of the Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, Cambridge, 1935.
    Gwen MacFarlane's memoirs, ‘Smoke, sand and sail: a home with "the happy people"', written some years after leaving Torres Strait, are held as an unpublished manuscript in the AIAS Library.

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