Pandanus Weaving (Handbag)
by Merril Namundja
One of a kind, available now.
Bags are made from natural, locally sourced materials from the Kakadu/West Arnhem Region.
Weavers gather fresh kunngobarn (pandanus), from the young leaves in the middle of the palm using a hooked stick called a manmarli, once harvested in large quantities. Kunggobarn is then striped into two, split into fine strands and dried. Once dried, the pandanus is then ready for dying.
Natural dyes are also collected out on Country in various times of the year dependent on weather systems. In Kakadu and West Arnhem Land there are six seasons, Kudjewk (Monsoon season, Dec – March), Bangkerreng (‘Knock ‘em down’ storm season, April), Yekke (Cooler (but still humid) season, May-June), Wurrkeng (Cold weather season, June-Aug), Kurrung (Hot dry weather, Aug-Oct) and Kunumeleng (Pre-monsoon storm season, Oct-Dec). These dyes are dependent on these seasons and fruit, blossom or grow specifically in these times, for example Windilk (seeds from Haemodorum coccineum plant), only grows in Kudjewk, much like Rosella, only grows in Yekke.
These colours are collected from the following plants:
Manbedde – Grey/Black (Petalostigma pubescens, leaves)
Windilk – Purple/Pink (Haemodorum coccineum, seeds)
Kunggobarn – Green (Pandanus, the growing shoots)
Wirdilwirdil – Brown (Haemadorum brevicauli grass, red bulb)
Mandjurndum – Yellow/Orange (Coelospermum reticulatus, yellow roots)
Once the pandanus is dyed with the above, the huge timely process to weaving a basket can begin. Weaving and collecting is usually seen as ‘Women’s business’, as most always, it will be women harvesting and weaving. During weaving, time passes by over cups of tea, daluk (women) having a yarn and the ancient tradition of weaving that naturally gets passed onto wurdurd (children), surrounding daluk.