Mangkurrkwa (Pandanus) Earrings
Much work is necessary before women can actually make earrings from mangkurrkwa (pandanus) leaves. Mangkurrkwa is the pandanus palm and only the new leaves in the centre are used to create the fibre. These leaves are pulled out by the women using a wooden hook. The fine serrated edges of each frond is removed and then shredded into strips by the women using a long fingernail or needle. 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. 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.