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Djakurrurr Garmu, Bathi (woven basket)
  • Aboriginal Art - Djakurrurr Garmu, Bathi (woven Basket)
  • Aboriginal Art - Djakurrurr Garmu, Bathi (woven Basket)
  • Aboriginal Art - Djakurrurr Garmu, Bathi (woven Basket)
Aboriginal Art - Djakurrurr Garmu, Bathi (woven Basket)
Aboriginal Art - Djakurrurr Garmu, Bathi (woven Basket)
Aboriginal Art - Djakurrurr Garmu, Bathi (woven Basket)

Djakurrurr Garmu, Bathi (woven basket)

  • Aboriginal Artist - Djakurrurr Garmu
  • Community - Yirkala
  • Homeland - 
  • Aboriginal Art Centre - Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre
  • Catalogue number - 4402-17
  • Materials - Pandanus and Natural Dyes
  • Size(cm) - H36 W19 D19

The age old practice of weaving baskets from the leaves of Pandanus continues today. Making these things is very labour intensive. Gathering the materials can be quite exhausting. The spiky pandanus leaves are sometimes difficult to harvest, followed by the careful task of flaying the leaves before hanging them to dry. Only the few central leaves of the palm growing from the core which have not bent are used. These can be ten or twenty feet high so a special crook known as a Galpuŋaniny must be used to work these out of the growing tree. The pandanus (known as Gunga- Pandanus Yirrkalaensis) recovers completely but cannot be re-harvested for some months. The dyes used are from the bulbs, roots or bark of various woodland plants. Each of these plants only grows in different specific locations. Once the material is collected, trimmed, dried and dyed the weaving begins. This is almost always done by women in groups. Men have been known to weave ceremonial or sacred objects but these are not for sale. Some of the plants used for dyeing are; Yiriŋaniny which is a small grass like plant with a red bulb under the ground, Burukpili (Cheesefruit/Noni) whose root gives a yellow dye. These and others are used with various catalysts like the ash from particular plants to create endless variations of colour. It is said that the practice of dyeing rather than painting fibrework with ochres is a practice that spread from the West but no time is specified. Circular and conical mats were a mainstay of Yolŋu family life in pre-contact times. As well as being used in ceremonial contexts they were useful for sitting, sleeping and child minding. Close weave conical mats kept mosquitoes at bay in the Wet. In ceremonial song the mat can correlate to the creation of life including the Sun as the ultimate source of all life. This form of coil weaving probably came with missionaries from the 1930s on as a style borrowed from the Narrindjeri from the Coorong. Yolŋu call these Bathi which means basket.

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Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre is the Indigenous community-controlled art centre of Northeast Arnhem Land. Located in Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community on the north-eastern tip of the Top End of the Northern Territory, approximately 700km east of Darwin. Our primarily Yolŋu (Aboriginal) staff of around twenty services Yirrkala and the approximately twenty-five homeland centres in the radius of 200km.

In the 1960’s, Narritjin Maymuru set up his own beachfront gallery from which he sold art that now graces many major museums and private collections. He is counted among the art centre’s main inspirations and founders, and his picture hangs in the museum. His vision of Yolŋu-owned business to sell Yolŋu art that started with a shelter on a beach has now grown into a thriving business that exhibits and sells globally.

Buku-Larrŋgay –  “the feeling on your face as it is struck by the first rays of the sun (i.e. facing East) 

Mulka – “a sacred but public ceremony.”

In 1976, the Yolŋu artists established ‘Buku-Larrŋgay Arts’ in the old Mission health centre as an act of self-determination coinciding with the withdrawal of the Methodist Overseas Mission and the Land Rights and Homeland movements.

In 1988, a new museum was built with a Bicentenary grant and this houses a collection of works put together in the 1970s illustrating clan law and also the Message Sticks from 1935 and the Yirrkala Church Panels from 1963.

In 1996, a screen print workshop and extra gallery spaces was added to the space to provide a range of different mediums to explore. In 2007, The Mulka Project was added which houses and displays a collection of tens of thousands of historical images and films as well as creating new digital product. 

Still on the same site but in a greatly expanded premises Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre now consists of two divisions; the Yirrkala Art Centre which represents Yolŋu artists exhibiting and selling contemporary art and The Mulka Project which acts as a digital production studio and archiving centre incorporating the museum.


Text courtesy: Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre

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