Search the Collection
Advanced Search

© Arnold Thuganmu Watt/Licenced by Viscopy, 2017

Marn (Fish Spear)

Date: c 1990 - 1991
Overall: 27 x 237 x 60 mm, 0.2 kg
Medium: Hibiscus wood, ochres
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Arnold Thuganmu Watt
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Spear
Object No: 00015746
Place Manufactured:Mornington Island

User Terms

    The marn or fish spear is made from hibiscus wood and was traditionally used for spearing small to medium sized fish. It is pronged at one end and decorated with reliefs painted in various colours of ochres depicting images of the Rainbow Serpent, Thuwathu, on the obverse. Thuwathu is an important creation ancestor to the Lardil. Along with Marnbil, Dhual-dhual, Ghingin and Nyaranbi, Thuwathu gave the Lardil 'totems, kinship system and land and sea story places.'

    Language Group: Lardil
    SignificanceThis marn is a significant object in the traditional sea faring way of life for the Lardil of Mornington Island. Made and decorated by Arnold Watt, the marn also depicts a creation ancestor, Thuwathu.
    HistoryTo continue the Australian National Maritime Museum's involvement with the Mornington Island community who were involved with the making of the raft (00004997) in 1987, curators asked the chairman of the local council to talk to the older residents about what sort of objects would have been used on the raft. The Chairperson, Nelson Gavinor came back with a list of objects he said were like the a kit. These objects, including this marn, were a coolamon (00015744) digging stick (00015747), dilly bag (00015749), fish net (00015748) and a spear thrower (00015746). Of these objects only a few are still being used.
    The objects are painted with the names of the seasons.The Lardil people did not use the names 'Autumn or Spring' but called the seasons by certain foods. A season was named after what was collected, eaten or was plentiful at that time. So that someone would say 'My child was born at turtle time' .

    The rafts, or walpas, assocaited with objects such as this were small and not very stable. It required a great deal of skill to cover any great distance at sea.The walpas became water logged after a few hours of exposure to water and had to be hauled up and dried out. This then, limited the distances that the traveller could cover without contact with land.The walpas were therefore used chiefly to 'island hop' over short distances.
    Related People

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.