Figures in possum skin cloaks

Figures in possum skin cloaks
1898

Artist/s name
William Barak
Wurundjeri


Medium
pencil, wash, charcoal solution, gouache and earth pigments on paper
Measurements
57.0 x 88.8 cm (image and sheet)
Accession Number
1215A-5
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1962
© Public domain
Gallery Location
Not on display

Wurundjeri artist and Ngurungaeta (headman) left an indelible record of his culture in a corpus of 50 or so extant drawings, produced during dangerous times of traumatic social upheaval and dispossession for his people.

Figures in possum skin cloaks 1898 shows men engaged in a ceremonial procession. Though the patterns Barak depicts on their cloaks are reminiscent of the marks carved and burned into Aboriginal artifacts, his viewpoint is striking and unusual. As we view the men from behind, we are witness to the patterns on their cloaks that are similar to those carved and burned into Victorian broad shields. These designs are worn as markers of identity, and are firmly linked to the paen (freshwater) of Barak’s father’s Yarra country.

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