Description & Technical information

A fine mans basket woven from plant fiber. Dilly comes from the Jagera word dili, which refers to both the bag and the plants from which it is made. The word dilly first appears circa 1867 in common Australian usage. Small personal bags, such as this example, were used by men to carry around their essentials. Larger examples were collectively used for gathering food such as insects, seeds, berries, shellfish and honey. Dilly bags are of religious significance to Arnhem Land people and are said to be totemic objects associated with particular sites in the landscape. The totemic motifs painted on the basket relate both to the owner as well as to the clan. The shoulder strap is made of several strands of bush string. Kimberly range, North Western Arnhem Land, Australia. Bush string made of either Malasia scandens a jungle vine, or the leaves of the screw palm Pandanus spiralis, and natural pigments.

Date:  Late 19th to very early 20th century
Period:  1850-1900, 19th century, 20th century
Origin:  Australia
Medium: Leaves of the screw palm, Natural pigments
Dimensions: 34.5 cm (13⁵/₈ inches)
Provenance: Ex private Dutch collection; acquired from Galerie Lemaire, Amsterdam.

Literature: See a similar example N° Oc1896-114 in the British Museum Purchased at JC Steven's sale No 9328 on 27 January 1896 and donated by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks
Categories: Tribal Art