ABORIGINAL BODY ADORNMENT - 5

Waist Decoration and Appendages
Sometimes broad belts, made from human hair string or bush string, are made specifically for ceremonial occasions. Across northern Australia, ceremonial skirts or aprons are made from strips of bark or bush string and hang down like grass skirts.

Various items are tucked into the waist belt as part of ceremonial dress. These include string tassels (in eastern Arnhem Land, and in the Kimberley in the past) bunches of emu and other feathers (throughout Australia), branches (throughout Australia), pearl shell (on the Kimberley coast), and woven items (across northern Australia). Many items of ceremonial dress appear on early human figures painted by Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal body adornment

A Marranunga man decorated for a funeral ceremony, wearing a broad hair string belt with a triangular spray of emu feathers. Northern Territory, circa 1940.
Photograph by Jessie Litchfield, courtesy of the Northern Territory Library, Mayse Young Collection.

 

 

Central Australian men decorated with body paint and down, wearing tjintilli (leafy branches) hanging from their belts.
Tennant Creek, 1906.
Photograph courtesy of the Northern Territory Library, Bradshaw Collection.

Aboriginal body adornment

 

Aboriginal body adornment

A Kimberley Bent Knee Figure wearing a hanging branch tucked into its belt. Drysdale River National Park.
Photograph by David M. Welch.

 

Other Ceremonial Items
Other items worn on ceremonial occasions include chest cross bands, anklets with leafy branches (which make a rustling noise when people dance), and ceremonial bags, which are worn by young boys undergoing initiation and initiated men in Arnhem Land.

 

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