Kuninjku (Eastern Kunwinjku) people

Australia 1915 /1919 – 1996

Mandjabu (Barramundi fish trap) c.1979 Place made: Mumeka, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, fibrework, jungle vine interlacing

Dimensions: 54.6 h x 230.0 w 54.6 diameter cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1991
Accession No: NGA 91.740
  • On the plains country between the Liverpool and Tomkinson rivers are several meandering shallow creeks, which in places spread out into quite wide pools. It is on the lower tidal parts of the creeks that mandjabu (fish traps) are used, with tremendous effect in harvesting barramundi.

    Kalunba was the main person involved in the making and operation of the mandjabu. A thin vine called Milil is used with another small tree used to make the hoops. A fence of stakes, paperbark, reeds and grass is made on a narrow, tidal section of the creek. An opening is left for the barramundi to travel up with the tide. When the tide turns the mandjabu is put in place. When the mandjabu fills the opening is blocked and the trap removed and untied at the back for the fish to be removed.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra