HistoryThe cloak is from Jerramungup in [the] south west of Western Australia and came into the Western Australian Museum c.1922. It was donated by SJ Tunney. [E8456]
Skin cloaks were termed 'booka'. They were made from the skins of kangaroos, possum, sometimes also the brush wallaby. The number of skins used to make a cloak varied, depending on the size of the skin and the size of the wearer. The literature states that Aborigines preferred the skins of female kangaroos as they were softer and lighter. Women's cloaks however, were bigger and were probably made from the skins of male kangaroos which were larger. The skins were pegged out to dry and the flesh scraped off, either with a piece of sharp stone such as quartz or with the woman's knife which was a piece of quartz, glass, or a kangaroo tooth attached to a stick with gum. The skin was rubbed with grease to make it pliable; red ochre or ashes were sometimes rubbed on the skin while it was being prepared. The holes for sewing the skins together were made by a pointed stick or pointed bone and they were joined using kangaroo tail sinews or rushes. From the literature it appears that women were responsible for preparing the skins and making the cloaks although one source says men prepared the skins. The cloaks were apparently worn with the fur to the inside but in wet weather the cloaks were worn fur side out so rain would run off the fur and not penetrate. Contemporary illustrations show that men wore the cloaks so that one arm was left free to carry weapons etc.
DescriptionKangaroo skin cloak of seven gores is made from the skins of eight grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus). The skins vary in size and shape, the inner five are roughly triangular. The extra skin has been used to make a collar. The two skins on the edge of the cloak are roughly rectangular. The cloak edges are untrimmed. The skins are sewn together by means of a small hem which was turned back on to the fur, so stitches went through two layers of skin on each gore. The skins have been sewn together with thread, the older thread is natural coloured linen, then the resewn areas have been stitched with black thread. The skins are a creamy yellow in colour.
Longest part: 750 mm approximately
S Meagher MA Thesis 1973 'A Reconstruction of the Traditional Life of the Aborigines of the south west of Western Australia'
This is a historical record and cannot be modified.