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National Museum of Australia

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Collection Explorer


Man and Possum skin cloak


Man and Possum skin cloak

Object information

Physical description

A framed mixed medium drawing on paper. The image consists of a rectangular shaped field with divided areas containing assorted symbols, markings and designs across the work with a border made of many small lines. The top of the rectangle dips in the centre with a black silhouette of a male head in the dip. The frame is made of assorted coloured wood arranged into a design.

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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