NotesMade by Lena Yarinkura (or Yarringula, Yaringura), (born 1948), language Rembarrnga and Kune (see detailed c/v in file). Makes bark paintings, pandanus weaving, string looped bags, paper bark sculptures, unusual dillybags, dancing belts. Has exhibited since the late 1980s and has work in numerous collections. Awarded an Aboriginal Arts Board professional development grant in 1988 to develop a special exhibition. She is considered an innovative artist.
This bag represents one of the traditional techniques and forms of the area, although the reinforced loop appears to be a recent innovation. It is made of two gauges of bush string, thick and thin. Carew calls this the reinforced loop, which is the basic string bag building technique, but a second element, in this case thick string, is introduced as a reinforcing coil held in place by the loops of the first string. The string bag is a basic hunting bag, useful for shellfish and other food that is gathered wet, as it allows the water to drain away; also good for food like fish that would get smelly in a tightly woven bag. Hunting bags were not traditionally dyed, and the reinforced loop seems to be an innovation to make it stronger. The feathers, probably from a heron, but possibly a brolga, are rolled into the string as the bag is made. Feathers are used in ceremonial tassels worn by men in secret ceremonies, and also decorate ceremonial dillybags men use to carry powerful objects during ceremonies. With the manufacture of woven items for a market, feathers have become purely decorative. Colours are raw fibre, and fibre dyed with Pogonolobus reticulatus for yellow; the same dye is used for the red/tan but with eucalyptus woodash added; and either Strychnos lucida or Petalostigma pubescens for the grey. In Lena's Kune dialect the bag name 'djerrk' is pronounced 'djerrh'.
Note: The word for 'bag' varies: 'I have given the name in the language of the artist who made it. The different languages have different spellings...and so sometimes the name shared across different language groups has a number of spellings... For example the name for string bag is the same right across most of the languages here. In Burarra it is jerrk, in Ndjennana it is djerrk, in Eastern Kunwinjku it is djerrk and in Rembarrnga and Kune it is djerrh'. (Margaret Carew, linguist, email, May 1996)
'The first detailed accounts and collections of central Arnhem Land weaving were undertaken by Donald Thompson during his anthropological research in 1935-37. He noted the variety of weaving produced by both men and women for various purposes, which included tight and open weave conical bags, netted string bags, conical mats, fish nets, woven fish-traps, fish-fences and a range of crafted body ornaments, many of which were decorated with the brilliant breast feathers of lorikeets or spun possum fur.' (M. West, p4) Stylistic similarities and differences arise through family groups working together, availability of certain materials and dyes, influence of new material and dye sources (like boiling CSR sugar packets), and the demands of the market (eg. opening out conical mats to make flat mats). (M. West p5,6).