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96/304/5 Bag (djerrh), bush string / feathers, made by Lena Yarinkura, Maningrida, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia, 1995. Click to enlarge.

String bag (djerrh) by Lena Yarinkura, Central Arnhem Land, 1995

Designed
This bag was made by Lena Yarinkura (or Yarringula, Yaringura), language Rembarrnga and Kune. Along with bags, Lena makes bark paintings, pandanus weaving, string looped bags, paper bark sculptures, unusual dillybags and dancing belts. 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. The feathers on this bag, probably from a heron or possibly a brolga, are rolled into the string as the bag is made. Feathers …

Summary

Object No.

96/304/5

Object Statement

Bag (djerrh), bush string / feathers, made by Lena Yarinkura, Maningrida, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia, 1995

Physical Description

Bag, (djerrh), bush string, feathers, 'single element string looping with reinforced loop' technique, natural dyes, made by Lena Yarinkura, at Maningrida, Central Arnhemland, Northern Territory, 1995. Bag, rectangular, flat with two sides at the top opening into a scoop shape, with loop handle attached at high end of each side. Horizontal open stitches, in wide coloured bands, starting from the base with ochre, grey, tan, ochre, natural, and with three horizontal bands of white fluffy feathers. The handle is tan-dyed separate strands of twined string, bound at each end where it is attached to the bag. Previous number 2421.

Dimensions

Height

530 mm

Width

360 mm

Depth

225 mm

Production

Notes

Made 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).

History

Notes

Maningrida is a township in central Arnhem Land, established in 1949 as a trading post and re-established in 1956 as a welfare settlement. It is now a centre for 34 outstations, and about 1800 people from about twelve different language groups. Following encouragement of commercial development of baskets and weaving by missionaries and others in the region in the early 20th century, the development of the trading post at Maningrida in the late 1940s and its further development in the 1960s, Maningrida Arts was established in 1971. Now Maningrida Arts and Culture, part of the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, this centre is committed to the maintenance of traditional culture in the region through a language and research centre; a womens centre; and an arts centre with arts coordinator that acts as an agent for sales of artworks. Unlike some other Aboriginal art workshops that have introduced eg. paper and canvas, Maningrida artists only use natural materials like fibres, barks and ochres and dyes, because of their relationship to local language and culture. (Discussion with Andrew Hughes,coordinator, October 1995).

The bags and weavings (now, but not always previously made by women) have spiritual meanings associated with a classification of all things into social and gender groups as part of a 'culturally-constructed universe' where 'their existence is never attributed to human creativity but to the actions of certain Ancestral Beings' (see West/Carew, publication below, p6.)

Selected by Grace Cochrane from special store at Maningrida, October, 1995

REF:
West, Margaret, Andrew Hughes & Margaret Carew, 'Maningrida: The Language of Weaving', Australian Exhibitions Touring Agency, South Melbourne, 1995

Personal correspondence between Curator Grace Cochran and Andrew Hughes & Margaret Carew

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1996

Acquisition Date

4 September 1996

Cite this Object

Harvard

String bag (djerrh) by Lena Yarinkura, Central Arnhem Land, 1995 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 July 2021, <https://ma.as/152425>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/152425 |title=String bag (djerrh) by Lena Yarinkura, Central Arnhem Land, 1995 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 July 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}