Summary

A number of examples of this ornament were collected by Baldwin Spencer who was hosted on Bathurst and Melville Islands in 1911 by the legendary buffalo shooter, Joe Cooper. The two men had met in Darwin the year before, and their collaboration resulted in over a thousand objects being collected mainly from Tiwi people on the islands, but also from mainlanders, primarily Iwadja people who worked directly for Cooper in his camp. Spencer is known to have purposely purchased a bolt of coloured cloth in Darwin to take with him on this trip to use as a commodity of exchange. No doubt he also traded for important artefacts with sticks of tobacco.

Physical Description

An ornament made from feathers embedded in resin and attached to a bone pin. A length of vegetable fibre string is attached.

Local Name

Aratji

Significance

Around 1993, a group of Tiwi artists from Jilimara Arts on Melville Island visited the museum to see the collections and one old woman amongst them was the late Blanche Puruntatameri. On seeing the feathered neck ornament called tokairinga collected by Baldwin Spencer in 1911 and a number of others collected around the same time by others, she was keen to understand how they had been made. A year or so later Blanche visited again and asked to see these neck ornaments once more, and this time stuck her fingers right into the centre of the feathered ball remarking, 'Ah, that's how they did it!' After her first visit, Blanche had unsuccessfully tried to make these ornaments relying on photographs taken during that visit, and she was determined to discover the detail of their construction in order to make them properly, and ensured she was included in the next visit to Melbourne in order to revisit the museum and check again on how these were made.

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