This is an old instrument, of unknown maker and provenance. It is difficult to be certain of exactly where it originated, however based on the style of the artwork and the proportions of the instrument, it is likely to have been made in the north western region of the Northern Territory, possibly Port Keats.

 

It appears to have been made and shaped with an axe and/or a knife. There is a subtle patina around the proximal end and parts of the body of this instrument. The wood is a type of Eucalyptus, likely to be either bloodwood or woollybutt. The artwork is heavily applied earth pigments that have deteriorated in some areas as a natural part of aging. The distal end has a heavily applied design and within the dark red portion of this instrument are several figurative images: a crocodile, turtle, fish, snake, a spear and what appears to be an emu, a dugong and a tree.

 

The way it has been made and the type and condition of the artwork are testiment to its age, but with the vast majority of older pieces, it is difficult to say exactly when it was made. Based on the patina and natural deterioration of the artwork, a reasonable estimate would be that it was made sometime during the 1960's.

 

Despite the age of this piece, it plays very well. The timber has aged very well with no cracking at all, which is unusual for older pieces. It is a short instrument, measuring only 92cm in length and is therefore high pitched, playing in the high range of G. The mouthpiece has been lined with beeswax from the native bees of Australia. A beautiful little instrument for a personal collection or museum.

 

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OM0001 $1200 AUD