ABORIGINAL BODY ADORNMENT - 1

 

We all like to dress up and look our best amongst friends and family, and Aboriginal people are no different. During day-to-day activities in the past, very little was worn and the basic adornments were simple head bands, arm bands, and waist belts. Like jewellery, other small items were often added, allowing people to express their individuality within the norms of the society.

 

A kangaroo teeth pendant collected by Paul Foelsche in the late 1800s, Northern Territory.
Foelsche Collection, South Australian Museum. Photo David M. Welch.

Aboriginal body adornment

 

In preparation for ceremonial occasions, past and present, Aboriginal people collect plant material which they manufacture into elaborate headdresses and other body decoration. They hunt specific birds which are needed to provide colourful feather decorations, and they sometimes cover their bodies with cotton-wool like material from crushed bush flowers, other plants, and bird feather down.

Aboriginal body adornment

An extraordinary scene of people dressed in ceremonial gear with bright body paint and large elaborate headdresses. Mid-1900s, Western Australia.

Photograph courtesy of the Battye Library, State Library of Western Australia.

 

Desert flowers which are crushed to produce a cotton-wool-like material, referred to as plant down. These are then coloured with white clay or red ochre and glued to the body in thick layers.
Todd River, Alice Springs, Central Australia.
Photo: David M. Welch

Aboriginal body adornment

 

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