78.5 x 58.5 x 39.0cm
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