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Paddle from the Borroloola bark canoe

Date: 1988
Dimensions:
Overall: 22 x 1333 x 63 mm, 0.85 kg
Medium: Wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Object Name: Paddle
Object No: 00006782

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    Description
    One of two wooden paddles from the Borroloola bark canoe.

    SignificanceThe Borroloola bark canoe is, apart from the paperbark raft (na-wukungka), the tradtional indigenous watercraft of the Yanyuwa people .
    HistoryThe Yanyuwa people, now living in Borroloola ,were formerly from the Sir Edward Pelew Group of Islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
    Construction of this canoe, the first since the 1920's, was directed by the old people who described the details and drew illustrations in the ground.
    The bark came from a place called Likajarrayinda. By tradition,the canoe is therefore called na-Likajarrayindamara.
    This canoe was built in 1988 by Don Miller, Jemina Miller, David Isaacs and Arthur King. The bark is from the Messmate tree (Eucalyptus tetradonta) and the braces are from handmade bark rope.

    Don Miller has never travelled in bark canoes but remembers his fathers and other older people talking about them at length concerning their construction and use. It was these stories and verbal assistance from the old people at Borroloola which enabled him to make the present bark canoe. He made the following comments concerning his opinion of bark canoe technology.

    "I really am ignorant as to how the old people, my father, my uncles, my grandfathers travelled in bark canoes. Truly they were strong hearted men who possessed many power songs to calm the seas, to stop the wind, to make the bark canoe strong. For myself I think my spirit would be weakened if I were to paddle one.
    It is good to make one for white people and our children to see but I would not like to depart from here to the open sea. Dugout canoes are better, I grew with them, but bark canoes, no, I would not like it."
    (Don Miller, 1988 - Translated from Yanyuwa )

    As with dugout canoes, bark canoes were named from the country at which it was made, or given a name which was associated with the
    canoe owners country and it's spiritual estate. Don Miller also comments as to what he named his bark canoe.
    "I named this canoe na-Likaiarrayindamara because that bark came from Likajarrayinda, that little jump up to
    the east of Borroloola (some 20 kilometres). "
    (Don Miller, 1988)

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