This bark container is an example of the type made to hold the bones or ngarritjpal of a recently deceased person, however this one does not appear to have been made for this purpose. It is folded and stitched along the length of the bark and then has been sealed with beeswax. The outside of this burial container is painted with the madayin minytji or sacred designs for the Mildjingi clan. This same design would have also been painted on the chest of the deceased in association with the first rites conducted when the person first passed away. The triangular motif represents the clouds that bring the monsoonal rains of the annual wet season called darrapung by the Mildjingi clan. The word 'kalgal' that was recorded for this work is most likely the Yolngu term galgal, which means 'holey' or 'having holes'.

The Mildjingi artist and artisan Makani Wilingarr is attributed as the creator of this work, and a decade or more later, he produced a similar example as well as bark paintings with this same design for the anthropologist Donald Thomson and now found in the Donald Thomson Collection.

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Physical Description

A bark cylinder made from a single sheet of eucalyptus bark (Stringybark, Eucalytpus tetrodonta) folded over and stitched along the length and open at both ends. It is painted on the outside with natural pigments. The container has no contents.

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