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© Gordon Watt/Licenced by Viscopy, 2017

Yamma (digging stick)

Date: 1990 - 1991
Dimensions:
Overall: 533 x 16 mm, 0.1 kg
Medium: Wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Gordon Watt
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Digging stick
Object No: 00015747
Place Manufactured:Mornington Island

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    Description
    A yamma, or digging stick, made by Gordon Watt from Mornington Island.
    A yamma is used for digging yam and roots, killing goannas and also used as women's clapping sticks. This yamma is made from hard bush wood, pointed at one end.
    Language group: Lardil
    SignificanceThis yamma is a significant object in the traditional way of life for the Lardil of Mornington Island. A simple yet essential tool that could also serve in women's dancing.
    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 yamma, were a coolamon (00015744) ), dilly bag (00015749), fish net (00015748) bailer shell (00015746) 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.
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