Illortaminni Mick Aruni

(Australia circa 1917 – 1973)

Milikapiti, North region, Melville Island, North region
Language group
Tiwi, North region

Male figure in ceremonial array

Not on display
Further information

A male is depicted ready to take part in a Kulama ceremony. He is wearing a white cockatoo feather headpiece, armbands of jungle cane, an artificial (goose feather) beard and a goose feather neck ball.

The painted facial and body designs are typical of Tiwi painted design, as applied also to the unique carved and painted grave poles and bark baskets.
The calico loincloth is a post-European contact phenomenon. Formerly, Tiwi males wore no loin covering in their everyday life.

The figure has been carved from bloodwood – a dense hardwood typically employed for the mortuary poles; it is from the latter that carved human figures have evolved. The ears and nose have been set in native beeswax.

Harry Messel

Place of origin
Melville Island, Northern Territory, Australia
Cultural origin
Tiwi Islands
circa 1960s
carved and painted blackwood, wax, feathers, cane, natural pigments
91.0 x 15.0 cm
Gift of Harry Messel 1990
Accession number
© Illortaminni Mick Aruni, courtesy of Jilamara Arts and Crafts. Licensed by Copyright Agency