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Collection

Maryanne Mungatopi

(Australia 1966 – 2003)

Language group
Tiwi, North region
Title
Tunga
Place of origin
Melville IslandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Year
Unknown
Media category
Sculpture
Materials used
natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
Dimensions

78.5 x 58.5 x 39.0 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Gift of Helen Read 2004
Accession number
141.2004
Location
Not on display
Further information

Tunga's are made from stringybark bark, which can only be collected during the wet season when the bark is moist and flexible. The bark is cut using a chainsaw, stripped smooth with a knife and cured over a fire before being bent into shape and sewn up with a bush string stripped from the native hibiscus. The tunga is left to dry for a few days before being painted with locally gathered ochres. Tungas were an everyday necessity for Tiwi, used to carry food. When a Tiwi person dies the tunga is placed upturned on the pukumani pole (grave-post) signifying the end of life. The tunga is decorated with designs associated with Tiwi ceremonial body designs.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2004