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Painted marine turtle shell featuring thirteen totemic animals representing the clans of the Lardil people of Mornington Island

2005.0028.0001

Painted marine turtle shell featuring thirteen totemic animals representing the clans of the Lardil people of Mornington Island

Object information

Physical description

A large painted marine turtle shell featuring 13 totemic animals painted on the outer shell in colours of black, brown and yellow ochre on a white background, representing the clans of the Lardil people, Mornington Island.

Statement of significance

The Blair Gardner Collection consists of a decorated turtle shell.

This turtle shell was painted by a collective of Mornington Island (QLD) artists in either 1977 or 1978. The artists likely to have been involved in the work were Sammy Reid, son of the local handicraft store owner, and younger members of the Roughsey clan including Lindsay Roughsey and possibly Dick Roughsey. The shell is that of a male marine turtle and measures 350mm high x 920mm long x 770mm wide. It has been decorated with thirteen animals painted on the outer shell in colours of back, white, brown and yellow ochre, which represent totemic animals important to the clans of the Lardil people of Mornington Island.

Lardil people are the main cultural group who live on Mornington Island, located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, QLD. At the time the turtle shell was painted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland living on reserves were able to take otherwise protected wildlife by any method and without restriction on quantity. Mornington Islanders at this time regularly hunted both dugong and turtle for meat. In either 1977 or 1978 the owner of the local handicraft store, Pat Reid, encouraged local Lardil people to varnish a turtle shell and paint upon it animals important to Lardil economy and religion. Totemic animals painted on the shell include stingray, dugong, goanna, crab, bustard, rat, threadfin salmon and turtle.

Object information

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