Babbarra Designs Fabric Cotton - Mandjabu
Screen printed fabric from the talented artists at Babbarra designs, Maningrida, NT. Design by: Susan Marawarr on 100% Cotton. L: 2.6m x 1.5m
Susan Marawarr is a leading textile artist who has been working with Bábbarra Designs since 2001. She has strong artistic family connections, being the daughter of Anchor Kulunba and Mary Marabamba, and the sister of acclaimed bark painters James Iyuna and John Mawurndjul. Marawarr is an accomplished printmaker, sculptor, weaver and bark painter. She collaborated with Waanyi artist Judy Watson for Watson’s public art commission of bronze fish fences and dillybags installed at Sydney International Airport, and toured the USA with Bush Colour, promoting the work of female printmakers.
Kuninjku people traditionally make two sorts of conical fish traps. One called mandjabu made from a vine called milil, and another smaller one called manylik mandjabu, made from the grass manylik. The mandjabu conical fish trap is bigger and stronger and used in tidal reaches of creeks to catch large fish. The smaller, lighter manylik trap is used in freshwater flowing creeks to catch smaller fish and freshwater prawns. Traditionally, only men were involved in the construction of the large fish traps, but children would often crawl inside and assist.
To make fish traps and fish net fences artists firstly get vine (milil) from the jungle and they put it in water for one night to make it soft. Next they start weaving it; they make rings for the inside to keep the fish trap’s shape. Artists work for three or four weeks on the fish trap. They also make string from kurrajong (burdaga) to attach the hibiscus (bardainy) rings and to tie the conical end of the fish trap. This fish trap is used in saltwater and freshwater. People also use fish net fences called mun-dirra. A long time ago they would put the mun-dirra across rivers and creeks. In the middle they would place the an-gujechiya. They also used small things like sticks, rocks, mud and grass to block the fish from going through. People would then catch fish like saltwater barramundi rajarra, freshwater barramundi (janambal), small black freshwater catfish (buliya), bonefish (an-guwirrpiya), and sand bass (dalakan) in these fish traps.