Possum skin cloak: Djargurd Wurrong
Possum skin cloak: Djargurd Wurrong,
photographer Michael Carver / Regional Arts Victoria,
Koorie Heritage Trust, 2006
Michael Carver: [email protected]
The Djargurd Wurrong possum skin cloak was worn by Gunditjmara Elder Ivan Couzens at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
The cloak was made by Vicki Couzens and Yarran, Jarrah, Marlee, Niyoka and Kirrae Bundle.
Gunditjmara, Western District of Victoria. River people.
Click here to watch Interview: Gunditjmara Elder Ivan Couzens
Uncle Ivan's grand-daughter Yaraan Couzens Bundle explains the motifs on the Djargurd Wurrong cloak:
It's a ceremony cloak, rather than an individual cloak. For a specific ceremony in the country, rather than our mother daughter cloak, which was used for their mothers and daughters. We're really proud and honored and privileged to be able to be part of making this, and all the ones that we've made so far.
First row (left to right)
Panel 1: Ancestors / spirits and the Southern Cross. This design represents Mount Warrnambool and some of the sacred dreaming sites. This design on the edge represents the borders of the country that's close to Mount Warrnambool and the intertwining of the clans. This one's quite a special one for me. This is one of my designs that also represents the southern part of our country. Our family dreaming is directly connected to the Southern Cross and the position of it over our Country.
Panel 2: Medicinal and food plants on the river banks. This one here is a knobby club rush, and these are the tubers underneath the water, it's actually a water plant. You can use every part of the plant, the head and the stem and the long ribbon like parts of the plant. This one over here is a reedy club rush, and again, the tubers were eaten, were mashed together, or collected in their baskets and mashed together to make a dough like paste, and then made, like, pasta and bread like foods. That was part of, like, our staple diet. We'd have a lot of that. And the yams, and that was our vegetable.
This one down here, it's a bit more intricate. My sister (Jarrah Couzens) actually done this design. It represents the dinosaurs that used to walk this area. There's not a lot known about them, and not a lot of sites, There's a lot of bits and pieces being found by our mob and so, we wanted to do a dinosaur design to represent that part of the country.
Panel 3: Lava flows at Mt Koang and Mt Kurtweeton. Volcanic designs are a big part of the country here and part of the dreaming. The reason why we've put these two (panels) together is because a lot of bones are found close to these sites.
Panel 4: Massacre site
Panel 5: Woman's circle and woman's business. These are the old women in ceremony with their message sticks and digging sticks. These pathways represent their journey into their sacred circle, and the woman's business is about connecting to Country.
Panel 6: Lake Struam
Second row (left to right)
Panel 1: Lake Gnarpart
Panel 2: Fossils of the giant kangaroo and emu
Panel 3: Lakes and lava flow. This panel here represents the volcanoes and the layers of ash. And this part here represents the lava and the water flows under the earth. It's all connected. It goes right down into the artesian basin, the actual water table.
These represent the water, and these represent the lava. It all connects up through the country, so the animal totems connect the dreaming on the land, the people, and the volcanoes link up all throughout the land and connect the earth. Underneath the earth, all the bloodlines and the songlines, travel and the lava and the water tunnels.
Panel 6. This one here is a design that represents a really sacred place. People know it as Tower Hill, but we call it Koroitgundidj. It's this big volcano crater with a lake around the outside and two cone like shapes. This side represents our island that comes around, and it's really big crater that you drive down into.
It’s a really important sacred site for the Koroitgundidj and surrounding clans. It was a big gathering place. A place where there was man's and woman's business practice and a lot of family ceremony, which we've brought back into the community. A few years ago, we started holding our traditional ceremonies back out there again.
Second row (left to right)
Panel 1: Mt Meningoort and lake
Panel 2: Mt Porndar
Panel 3: Mt Myrtle
Panel 4: Corongamite
Panel 5: Mt Elephant is a really important sacred site. A few years ago the community was able to buy it back, so it's now a protected site. And as far as I know, there's been a few ceremonies held there. It's really important to represent the volcano connection but it's also sacred dreaming site and it was a meeting place for the Dja Dja Wurrung, the Keerray Wurrong, and other surrounding clans.
Fourth row (left to right)
Panel 1: Swan across the lake
Panel 3: Basket, eel trap and waddi
Panel 4: Timeline
Panel 7: Kooris gathering. This panel here is about, is another one of my family designs. It's about the spirituality and the spirit world connecting to country. Just having respect for the spirit world, knowing that it's there, and not mucking around with sacred sites.
Sixth panel (left to right)
Panel 1: Bridge, turkey and mudlark. This panel here was done by my younger sister (Marlee Couzens) and represents some of the totem animals that are connected to the country. This one here's the brolga. It's a sacred dreaming animal. The bush turkey helped find water and brought it to the people in the time of drought. The magpie lark is a little peewee bird, a little black and white one and that's connected to our family as a family totem. So, those skins, and those designs are really important to represent the animal totems.
Panel 2: Lake Purrumbete, rivers and creeks
Panel 3: Earth dwellings along the riverbank
Panel 4: Stony rises
Panel 5: Camp sites in sandpits along Tomahawk Creek