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© Roy Riwa/Licenced by Viscopy, 2017

Rope for harpoon and float

Date: 1991
Overall: 29740 mm, 1.05 kg
Medium: Natural fibres, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Roy Riwa
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Rope
Object No: 00015582

User Terms

    A rope made by Roy Riwa from Milingimbi, Crocodile Island Group in the Arafura Sea (East Arnhem Land).
    This rope is made from malwan (hibiscus tiliaecus) and is accompanied by a harpoon (00015584) and a float (00015583). The string binding for the harpoon point is made from budarga-kurrajong (red-flowered kurrajong).

    SignificanceThis rope by Roy Riwa is representative of Indigenous weaving techniques and hunting equipment used in the Northern Territory. It demonstrates the type of utilitarian objects used by men and women when they interact with the sea. Today these functional items are mainly produced for artistic purposes with the Maningrida Art Centre being a well recognised centre for weaving.
    HistoryThis hand made rope by Roy Riwa, is from the Arafura Sea, East Arnhem Land. Many of the people who live in this area and on the surrounding out-stations still use traditional maritime activities as part of their day to day lives, taking advantage of the sea, tidal estuaries and fresh water rivers to collect food.
    In late 1990 the Australian National Maritime Museum requested the the arts advisor at Maningrida to coordinate with the Maningrida community to put together a small collection of hunting objects with a maritime theme.
    The hunting utensils that the community came up with included spears, harpoons, sculptures, traps and baskets. Some objects, like the turtle spear, were commissions from the best maker of that object. All of the Maningrida maritime collection was put together by people who still hunt. These objects are all things that were still being used.
    These objects, including this fish trap, are part of an culture that has learnt it skills from their ancestors. But the makers as individuals respond to today's needs and the available technology.
    Hunting equipment was not normally painted but images of fish or freshwater are still painted on rocks near where these things where collected.These images are now sometimes painted on objects and they recall the animal that the hunters are thinking of as they carve, weave or paint the object.
    Many of the items woven today have their origins at the beginning of time in Maningrida culture. The Gun-matj sacred dilly bag-was one of the Totemic creators of Rembarrng a clan land, creating water-holes and imparting the life force in that place for the people who live there, together with their language, law, song, ceremony, social customs and technology.
    Both secular and sacred versions of these items are still commonly made by both men and women, though only outside versions are made for sale to a wider market.
    To the people living around Maningrida and the Arafura Sea, the making of woven objects was once a very important occupation. Nowadays most residents have no need of these traditional objects, however, but there is communal pride in making them. Some objects are made for personal use or to give away as presents but most are made to be sold.

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