Gunga bathi (pandanus basket)
Pandanus, kurrajong and bush dyes
15cm x 24cm x 24cm
Milingimbi artists choose to create their woven artworks solely using materials harvested from their homelands. This piece is made from gunga (pandanus).
The new shoots of the pandanus palm are plucked from the central crown of the tree. The fine serrated edges are removed by running a fingernail down each side of the frond, which is then split into two and peeled to expose the inner fibre. Using extensive knowledge of local vegetation, these strips are then dyed using colours extracted from the leaves, roots and bark of selected native plants and left to dry in the sun. Following this lengthy process, the artist weaves the prepared fibres into their desired form.
The bright purple colour in this piece is unusual in artwork from Milingimbi. The plant that the purple colour is derived from grows in the rocky country on the mainland at the end of the wet session. Milingimbi artists only have access to this plant when they travel west for funerals or other business, and there is great excitement in the studio when an artist returns with a supply of it. The yellows, oranges and reds are all derived from the root of the guninyi tree – harvested from nearby islands.