This armband was used while dancing at the graveside during a funeral ceremony known as pukamani. It was 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 the year before in Darwin, and their collaboration resulted in over a thousand objects being collected, mainly from Tiwi people on the islands, but also from mainlanders, in particular Iwadja people who worked directly for Cooper on his lugger and 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

A circular base made from cane overwound with human hair string painted with natural pigments in a distinctive pattern. Abrus seeds embedded in resin, probably beeswax, decorate the ends of the five tassels of multiple strands of vegetable fibre string and the central tassel has feathers at the end, possibly from an owl. The Abrus seeds also adorn the object where the tassels are attached to the ring.

Local Name


More Information