Jeannie DIBATU, Basket [bark] Enlarge 1 /1

Jeannie DIBATU

Tiwi people

Australia 1890 – 1978

Basket [bark] 1974 Place made: Paru, Melville Island, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, natural pigments on eucalyptus bark

Dimensions: 51.0 h x 41.8 w x 29.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1984
Accession No: NGA 84.3036

The ancient pukumani mortuary tradition incorporates the tunga or bark baskets, which are placed on top of the pukumani grave posts. Such active ceremonial activity provides the opportunity for creative involvement in body painting and the production of tutini, armbands and tunga.

Jeannie Dibatu’s Bark basket has missing fibre and loss of pigment suggesting its use for ceremony before its transition to a gallery domain. The form has been fashioned by folding a bark sheet in half and sewing up the sides, while the bark is still moist and filling the form with padding, or sand, so that it may maintain its shape and to absorb the moisture from the bark casing. The bark fibre, or bush string, is also used to stitch and join the sides together and the basket is then painted.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra