Pandanus Basket


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Much work is necessary before women can actually make a basket from pandanus leaves. Collecting and preparing the material provides the opportunity for the women to go out in the bush with their families and conduct other activities such as hunting, collecting dye roots and bush tucker. Pandanus spiralis (mangkurrkwa) is the pandanus palm and only the new V- shaped leaves in the centre are acceptable for fibre production. These leaves are pulled out by the women with the assistance of a wooden hook that they manufacture for the purpose. The fine serrated edges of each frond is removed and then shredded into strips by the women using a long fingernail. The process is repeated until the fibres are thin. The strips are dried in the sun and boiled with colour obtained from other plants such as roots, shrubs, leaves and seeds. Plants are the source of dyes whose colours are known by the name of the particular plant from which they are derived. Colour can be obtained directly from boiling plant material usually in salt water. The diverse colour range comes from the addition of ash of specific trees to the main dye bath ‘yellow one’, as women call it, is the most important dye plant. Various shades of yellow and orange are produced from this plant and it is the base ingredient to make most reds. Pogonolobus reticulatus (Morinda) is a small tree or large shrub. The inner bark of the root of the tree is the source of the colour. The weaving of the basket to a desired shape requires great skill. The wrapping and knots must be uniform and the joining colours must blend. The main techniques used in the production of baskets, mats or jewellery are twining, coiling and looping. The technique of twining is the twisting together of the fibres. Coiling is where a bundle of fibre is the foundation core over which a single strand is stitched. Looping is the when the women spin the string and add more on to the length as required and is similar to the buttonhole stitch used in coiling. A variety of plants are the source of materials for weaving mats, dillybags, string bags, jewellery and traditional garments. The baskets and string bags are produced from pandanus and bark from the Peanut tree (mabalba) or the Cocky apple (mukuwara).


Annabell Amagula
Annabell Amagula
24 artworks

Catalog Number: 16-774

Size: 30 x 70 cm

Category: Weavings & Baskets