Summary

‘Many tribes made possum skin armbands for dance or body ornaments. However, only Yorta Yorta people were known to create and then trade special healing possum skin armbands with medicinal qualities’ Lee Darroch 2013.

The designs on this armband, made by artist Lee Darroch, represent various bush foods and Lee has used dyes from plants and ochre to create the colours. The Pink Hakea flower is used to create a pale green colour; the Bottle Brush flower produces a light pinkie brown colour and Red ochre the dark reddish brown colour.

Lee's artwork is inspired by the need to continue cultural, spiritual and artistic practices through her research and travell along the extensive ancient trade routes that crisscross the South-east and joined family groups, clans and tribes in ceremony, trade, and song. Possum skin armbands were among the significant items of raw material and crafted pieces that were known to have been traded for countless generations along these trade routes.

Physical Description

Arm band made from possum skin cut to rectangualr shape. Two lengths of string attached to either end. Reverse side is fur. Obverse side decorated with hotpoker work designs, five designs infilled with red ochre, two designs infilled with pale pink pigment.

Significance

Lee Daroch is a Yorta Yorta, Mutti Mutti, Boon Wurrung woman whose art includes mediums as diverse as possum skin cloak-making, carpet design, pastel drawing, painting, basket weaving, textiles, large-scale public art installations and sculptures. She is a member of the significant Possum Skin Cloak revival project and she made two beautiful cloaks for a woman and child and two sets of armbands for the First Peoples exhibition. During the collaboration for the exhibition Lee described herself as an artist and cultural worker who is guided in her artwork by the old people who have gone before and her elders today.

The possum skin cloaks and armbands are of great significance culturally and as an addition to the First Peoples exhibition and Museum Victoria's collection of material culture from Aboriginal Victoria. There are no examples of these possum skin armbands in the Museums historical collection and there are only two cloaks, both of which were made and worn in the mid1800s.

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