Groote Eylandt Bullroarer
Measures 29 cm in length x 6 cm wide, incised with a human face and decorated with ochre pigments
This is very similar to our other very special ceremonial Groote Eylandt bullroarer where consultation was made with Groote Eylandt specialist Professor David Turner of the University of Toronto, author of "Tradition and Transformation: a Study of Aborigines in the Groote Eylandt Area, Northern Australia" (1974). Prof Turner conducted his doctoral field research in anthropology on Groote Eylandt in 1969-1971.
Professor Turner's comments were:
"As for the bullroarers, they were really not indigenous to Groote Eylandt ceremonies until after the 1920s when the secret-sacred Mardaiya:n remembrance ceremony was introduced to Groote [Eylandt] from the mainland via the Nunggubuyu [tribe]. But they do form part of that and should be treated accordingly. The [front of the bullroarer containing the incised face] seems to me to be a variant on the East Wind design which makes it the jurisdiction of the Warnindilyaugwa clan (now called Mamariga, the name of the wind), the most conservative of all the Groote clans. I may be wrong but it seems to me [that the painted design on the back of the bullroarer] is associated with the West Wind design and the jurisdiction of the Warngunwadarrbalangwa clan (now called Bara, the name of the wind) with origins on Bickerton [Island, which is adjacent to Groote Eylandt]. I deduce this from designs I have on paintings from people of this clan. I don't know if you have an acquisition date on it but I would put it about the time of the Mountford expedition in 1948".
The first sustained contact between Groote Eylanders and non-Aboriginal people occurred in 1921, the year a mission was established at Emerald River on Groote Eylandt. The first serious anthropological study of Groote Eylandt culture including the collection of art and artefacts was in 1948 during the Mountford-led American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, a joint project of the National Geographic Society of America, the Commonwealth Government of Australia and the Smithsonian Institution of the United States of America.
The Groote bullroarer
is worthy of collecting because of its extreme rarity; they are much
much rarer than bullroarers found in other parts of Australia due to
the remoteness of Groote Eylandt and the fact that few whitefellas ever