Artist: Jimmy Ngalakurn
Area: Maningrida, Northern Northern Territory
Artwork: ‘Lorrkon – Hollow Log’
Medium: Wood, natural ochre pigments, fixative
Size: 2670 x 330 mm,
Maningrida Arts & Culture
Palya Art No. 1909
Price: AUD $6,800.00
The lorrkkon, or bone pole coffin ceremony, was the final ceremony in a sequence of mortuary rituals celebrated by the people of Anhem Land. This ceremony involves the placing of the deceased’s bones into a hollow log, which was decorated with painted clan designs, and ceremonially placed into the ground where it remained until it slowly decayed over many years.
The log is made from termite hollowed Stringy-bark tree (Eucalyptus tetadonta) and is decorated with totemic emblems. The western Arnhem Land version of the lorrkkon ceremony involves the singing of scared songs to the accompaniment of karlikarli, a pair of sacred boomerangs used as rhythm instruments. During the final evening of the ceremony, dancers decorate themselves with kapok down, or today, cotton wool and conduct much of the final segments of the ceremony in the secrecy of a restricted men’s’ camp.
The complete ceremony may stretch over a period of two weeks. On the last night the bones of the deceased, which have been kept in a bark container or today wrapped in cloth and kept in a suitcase, are taken out, painted with red ochre and placed inside the hollow log. This ceremony may take place many years after the person has died.
At first light on the final morning of the lorrkkon ceremony, the men appear, coming out of their secret bush camp carrying the pole towards the women’s’ camp. The two groups call to each other using distinct ceremonial calls.
The women have prepared a hole for the pole be placed into and when it is stood upright, women in particular kinship relationships to the deceased dance around the pole in a jumping/shuffling motion. The lorrkkon is then often covered with a tarpaulin and left to slowly decay. Source: Maningrida Arts & Culture
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