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National Museum of Australia

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4

Tapstick

Object information

Physical description

Wooden pigmented and cylindrical tapstick. Each end is tapered.

Statement of significance

The Gwen and Wayne Masters collection no. 1 consist of fifty objects from Mowanjum mission in north-west Australia. The items in this collection include two religious books in Worora language, painting and artists equipment, boab nut carvings, wooden clapsticks, animal parts (turtle), spindles, elliptical concave wooden containers, shields, elliptical wooden shield with raised handle, wooden boomerangs for hunting and fighting, four pieces of solid form red ochre, wooden spearthrower, spears for hunting, fishing and fighting, stone tools, fighting sticks, cylindrical wooden clubs, hollow cylindrical dronepipe, bullroarer, fire drill set and cylindrical bark container with string handle.

Mowanjum, a Worowa word meaning ?settled at last?, is a remote Aboriginal community located near Derby in north-west Australia. Members of the Worowa, Ngarinyin, and Wunumbul clan groups form the majority of Mowanjum?s residents, who were brought together by missionaries in the early twentieth century at the Kunmunya Presbyterian Mission and were forcibly moved across three different locations before arriving at the present site. Since the departure of the missionaries in the 1970s, Mowanjum has operated as an Indigenous corporation with an elected governing committee. The collection was assembled by the Masters whilst working on the Mowanjum mission during the late 1960s and early 1970s and is related to a collection that they donated to the National Museum in 1982. The collection reflects the diverse range of Indigenous objects manufactured for sale by mission residents of Mowanjum during the latter twentieth century, as well as the collecting interests of Mowanjum mission workers of the time. The objects were highly prized by the Masters and provide material evidence of cultural practices such as traditional hunting, decorative arts, music and storytelling.

Object information

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