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National Museum of Australia

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Pastel drawing of an old possum skin cloak

2003.0028.0006

Pastel drawing of an old possum skin cloak

Object information

Description

The drawing represents the markings on the underside of an old possum skin cloak

Physical description

Framed multi-coloured pastel drawing with a rectangular shaped image with divided areas containing assorted symbols, markings and designs across the work.

Statement of significance

The Tooloyn Koortakay Collection comprises thirty pieces including a reproduction of the Maiden's Punt Yorta Yorta possum skin cloak collected in 1853, a reproduction of the Lake Condah Gunditjmara possum skin cloak collected in 1872, pastel drawings, lino cuts, etchings, possum skin dance ornaments and a selection of tools for making possum skin cloaks. As the cloaks were well over one hundred years old and slowly deteriorating, Lee Darroch, Treahna Hamm, Vicki Couzens and Debra Couzens undertook the project as a commitment to cultural regeneration.

Possum skin cloaks are a significant aspect of Aboriginal cultural heritage from Victoria and other parts of southeastern Australia. Prior to 1830 almost every person had his or her own possum skin cloak to wear during winter and use for a mattress or blanket. Cloaks were incised with designs representing clan identity, animals, plants and natural features. As there are only five cloaks from this region known to exist in the world, the Tooloyn Koortakay collection is an important historical record as well as a significant expression of contemporary cultural change and identity.

Object information

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