Coil Basket by Deborah Wurrkidj

Coil Basket

Coil basketry is a well-established fibre art form in the Maningrida region, especially for women from the Kuninjku, Rembarrnga, Ndjebbana and Nakkara language groups. 

Artists make coiled baskets of many shapes and sizes, ranging from small round baskets to large oval baby baskets, and made mostly from pandanus fibre that is dyed with natural pigments. Bundles of fibre are formed into coils which are covered and stitched together with strands of fibre threaded onto a needle. Artists combine colours and patterns to obtain intricate new graphic patterns.

These techniques are believed to have been introduced to Arnhem Land by Greta Matthews, a missionary on Goulburn Island in the 1920s. She had probably learnt coil basketry from Aboriginal people in the south-east of Australia, possibly the Murray River people such as the Yorta Yorta or the coastal Ngarrindjeri. 

The coiling technique spread quickly from Goulburn Island to people on mainland Arnhem Land.