Bathi (Coiled Basket)
A beautiful multi-coloured woven hand bag made by Galatharra Munyarryun Mary of Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre.
The traditional art of weaving baskets from Pandanus is characterised by labor-intensive processes. Gathering Pandanus leaves can be physically demanding, as the spiky leaves must be carefully harvested and flayed before drying. Special crooks, called Galpuŋaniny, are employed to extract the central, unbent leaves, which can reach impressive heights of ten to twenty feet. The Pandanus (Gunga-Pandanus Yirrkalaensis) regenerates but can’t be reharvested for months.
Natural dyes sourced from bulbs, roots, and bark of specific woodland plants, each unique to their growth locations, are used to colour the materials. Typically, women work together in groups to weave, while men create ceremonial or sacred objects not meant for sale. The dyeing tradition, which replaced ochre painting, may have originated from the West but lacks a specific timeframe.
Circular and conical mats played a vital role in Yolŋu family life, serving both utilitarian purposes such as sitting, sleeping, and child minding, as well as ceremonial significance, symbolising the creation of life, including the Sun as the ultimate source. This coil weaving style likely arrived with missionaries in the 1930s, influenced by the Narrindjeri from the Coorong, known as “Bathi” or baskets by the Yolŋu people.