Artist Profile: Johnson Namundja

The story behind the artwork: Fish Trap,

Traditional Old Time Fish Trap (Mandjabu). In the Dreamtime Wak, the Ancestral Crow Man, taught Aborigines how to build barriers across a stream, using saplings, mud and grass, leaving a gap in the middle from which a conical basket floated, secured on each side by bush rope tied to a sapling. The Mandjabu is only used at certain times of the year – towards the end of the wet season, when the fish are fat, for fat is much prized among Aborigines. At the end of each wet season (April/May) the trap is set up at the same site, across a small shallow tidal creeks.

First a barrier of saplings, grass, mud and paperbark is erected across the creek, with a small opening left in the middle. Barramundi, catfish and saratoga fish, which are the most plentiful species in Arnhem Land, swim upstream through this gap. Then when the tide turns, the conical basket, with the removable, cone-shaped mouthpiece inserted and tied onto the basket, is lashed to a sapling on each side of the gap, so that it floats with the tide running out. Those men designated to look after the trap wait patiently for the fish to swim into the basket.

Johnson Namundja
Fish Trap

C/No: 12763

57 x 76 cm

Ochres on Arches Paper

AUD $ 2,200.00

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