These are commonly known as 'biting bags' or 'power bags' . Aboriginal people of the Oenpelli region knew this type of string bag as marlarrka, while the Gaagudju term was balluk. Young men and older men wore these and during fights would place it in the mouth. In rock art sequences found on Injalak Hill in western Arnhem Land, dynamic male figures are depicted wearing these small bags on their chests and this art is dated to the period of the last 1,500 years. Stencils of these from the period are found further east in the rock art of the Liverpool River area. Another of these biting bags collected by Paddy Cahill is made of coloured string and decorated with glass beads and a pearl button.

Physical Description

A small padded bag made of vegetable fibre string tied at the top and stuffed with feathers. It is painted with natural pigments and has lines of white pipe clay and red ochre. A multistrand handle of vegetable fibre string is attached at the top.

Local Name


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