Baskets, Fish-traps and Mats
Tanganekald people past and present practise weaving. There are many different words for baskets, mats and fish-traps which are woven into intricate patterns.
Here are some more details about some of the types of baskets and how they are used.
The karuaraki has a hair string net bundle which is decorated with feathers of a man’s ngaitji ‘totem’. A warrior would wear the karuaraki on their back as a challenge to opponents, who would try to hit the basket.
The kuranyi is coiled and had a hair-string handle so that it could be worn across the shoulders. The kuranyi has red, decorated walls, which got its colour from strands of a particular species of red reed. The kuranyi was worn across the shoulders during fighting as a challenge, ‘if you can’t hit the basket you can’t hit me’. Kuranyi left on the field after a battle identified the men who ran away. The kuranyi is also used in collection of fruits such as the mantri ‘muntry; emu apple’.
The koiya is twice as long as the kuranyi and has a netted cord for carrying over the shoulder.
The karakoranyi, an elongated, coiled type of basket, is carried under the left arm and contained throwing clubs. The karakoranyi could also be used as a shield by its wearer.
Close-up of the weave of a karakoranyi basket.
Materials and tools used for weaving
Tanganekald people have always used a wide variety of materials in their weaving. This includes grasses, reeds, waterweeds, bark, and bone pins.
Here is some more information about some of these materials and how they were used.
The karelanggi grows on stones. It is dried and rubbed with fat to make a type of string.
Kuka ‘native flax’ a grass like plant with blue flowers. It is used to make fishing lines and nets. An important place for locating kuka is at Kukaray ‘Flax Point’.
Pilbali is a soft rush used for making baskets and nets. Cattle eat this plant, so it is now very hard to find.
Knots and weaving techniques
Knots and weaving techniques have names in Tanganekald language which don’t necessarily have equivalents in English. Let’s learn some terms for knots and weaving.
Deadly work! Let’s have a look at some sentences using the vocabulary we’ve learned.
yaraberi means ‘throwing club’, karakoranyi is a type of basket used for carrying clubs, the ending -angk means ‘in’, and warra means ‘carry (it)’.
ngoponowi means ‘uncle; father’s brother’, the ending -il shows that the uncle is weaving, pilbali means ‘a species of soft rush’, the ending -ungai means ‘with’, karatparaki means ‘basket (general term)’ and lakun means ‘weave’.
ngamurrunyi means ‘a species of waterweed’, morok means ‘gather (it)’ (morokun means ‘gather’), mulapani means ‘a blanket made with waterweed’, lakurambi means ‘in order to weave’ (lakun means ‘weave’).
pakanu means ‘grandmother; mother’s mother’, the ending -il shows that grandmother is doing the action of the sentence, pilbali means ‘a species of soft rush’ and murraramun means ‘keeping the rushes under cover from the sun’.