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Weaving & basketry

Two weavers
Beautiful and intricate in design, basketry and weaving is central to Torres Strait Islander lifestyle in a practical sense rather than for arts sake; although decorative hanging pieces and children's play objects are produced.

Objects could be made for immediate or temporary need, such as a quick basket to carry harvested fruit or vegetables. The basket may then be thrown away after use.

Materials for weaving may include coconut leaf, banana fibre or pandanus. In recent years plastic strapping has been used to produce a range of items.

Fans of varying shape, design and colour are woven from coconut palm or pandanus and can be decorated with feathers, wool, seeds or beads.

Generally weaving and basketry is the work of women, although in recent times men have proven adept at producing woven materials.

Rice cookers

A number of these baskets or cookers are quickly plaited from young coconut palm leaves to form an enclosed container. Filled with uncooked rice and immersed in boiling water, the baskets are removed after cooking by holding the loose leaf ends.

Feast decorations: Bird in flight

Woven from young coconut (Cocos nucifera) leaf small objects, such at this 'bird in flight' are typically of a temporary nature, being thrown away when dry or withered. These small objects hang from buildings and trees during festive occasions.