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Artist: Christine West
Design: Blue Flat Basket
Material: Wild-harvested grass, Raffia
Size: L34xW28xH4 cm
It is from this shape that basket weaving started and evolved in the Central Western Desert region in 1995. Women have always made several items from fibres: hair belts, hair rings, headbands, hair string skirts or face coverings for modesty and ceremonial purposes, and shoes bark and feathers.
Ngaanyatjarra Communities in Western Australia were the first to start weaving in 1995 after the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjara, Yankunytjatjara Women's Council initiated an ATSIC-funded training program in the region. Ngaanyatjarra women then taught their new skills to nearby Pitjantjatjara, Pintubi, Yankunytjatjara and Luritja communities. Today basket weavings are still spreading further and further across the desert with different regions developing their own styles.
Once the grass is collected women spend two to four days to complete a basket. Needles and string are both bought from community stores or are sometimes made from tinned meat keys. Whilst collecting grass, women take time to hunt and gather food, teach their children about their country, visit sacred sites and sing songs from their country.
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