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National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer

4

Wooden crocodile carving headdress with grass covered plastic headpiece

2000.0002.0003

On display

Wooden crocodile carving headdress with grass covered plastic headpiece

Object information

Physical description

A wooden crocodile carving headdress with a grass covered plastic headpiece. The carving is made from painted Wongai Tree wood, with painted metal attachments cut in the shape of feet and teeth. White feathers are inserted into holes in the back of the crocodile. It is painted black and green with a yellow underside, and protrusions in the carving mark eyes and ridges on the back. The separate headpiece is made of white plastic and wood, covered by a grass fibre skirt tied around the top of the plastic section with white synthetic rope, and attaches on the underside of the crocodile carving.

Statement of significance

The wooden crocodile carving by Mr Eseli from Kubin Village represents totemic significance for Torres Strait Islander culture. Totemic practice is an important part of Islander life as it sets the path for managing the environment and ecology sustainably. Following totemic practice allows for enough food to be hunted and consumed enabling the natural habitat to rejuvenate and replenish sufficiently.

The war fighter planes represent the influence of World War 2 on the Torres Strait Islands. Islanders incorporated the airplanes into their dance through making dance ornaments and bomber head-dresses.

Physical description

On display at the National Museum of Australia.

Object information

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