The Arts – Sculptures and Carvings
The Discovery Maps are interactive platforms exclusive to Jajoo Warrngara. Students are invited to journey across the land, engaging with each community on Country, exploring the cultural knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Welcoming visitors to Country has always been an important First Nations protocol. A Welcome to Country from each community has been built into the Discovery Maps for viewing prior to exploring the theme-based cultural content shared.
The Wagilak, Pitta Pitta and Bangerang communities have shared cultural knowledge about their traditional and contemporary arts practices. Within the Diversity of Arts Discovery Maps resources, there are compass worksheets which can be used to navigate Country. The compass worksheets include inquiry questions, basic comprehension tasks and extension activities for engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks. Students are invited to explore the communities using the compass worksheet – either independently or in small groups – before reporting their findings and interests back to the class in yarning circles.
In this unit, in particular, students will explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork, with a specific focus on sculptures and carvings. They will gain insight into the history of Australia’s artifact collection practices in First Nations’ communities, including the historical context of colonial-era removals of sacred objects and ancestral remains. Students will explore the ethical considerations surrounding cultural repatriation and understand the significance of preserving cultural heritage through this process.
At the heart of Jajoo Warrngara are the communities that lead the work on Country. We would like to acknowledge all of the communities contributing to the Diversity of Arts Discovery Maps content. These include the Elders, Storytellers, Songmen, and Custodians of the Wagilak, Pitta Pitta, and Bangerang communities.
Tailored Classroom Protocols have been developed in direct conversation with Traditional Custodians. The guides directly relate to cultural knowledge shared by the Wagilak, Pitta Pitta, and Bangerang communities. Diversity of Arts Discovery Maps Protocols
- How do cultural artifacts, like the Pitta Pitta sculptures, connect First Nations’ communities to their cultural heritage and Ancestral lands? Why is preserving these artifacts important for future generations?
- What role do repatriation efforts play in reclaiming and honoring First Nations’ cultural heritage and fostering reconciliation?
- How can we show respect and value for First Nations’ knowledge and traditions while preserving and studying cultural artifacts?
- What emotions and ethical considerations surround the possession of First Nations artifacts by non-Indigenous groups? How can institutions like the Royal Historical Society contribute to repatriation efforts and cultural preservation?
- How does understanding the history and impact of repatriation deepen our appreciation for the importance of respecting the wishes of First Nations’ communities in the repatriation movement?
Links to Resources
The Arts - Sculptures and Carvings Lesson 1
- Engage with the Diversity of Arts Discovery Interactive Map on Jajoo Warrngara and watch the Welcome video from the Pitta Pitta peoples.
- Using the Map of Indigenous Australia | AIATSIS, identify where each of these communities are located.
- Watch the Pitta Pitta Sculptures film on the Arts Discovery Maps.
- Share this article with students 03 Mar 1937 - AN ABORIGINAL SCULPTRESS - Trove to assist in Yarning Circle discussion
- In a yarning circle, facilitate a discussion about the films. Some questions to support this conversation are as follows:
- Who created these rare sculptures, and what do they represent to the Pitta Pitta community? What was the purpose of crafting these particular sculptures?
- Given their original purpose, how do the sculptures continue to connect the Pitta Pitta people to their rich cultural heritage and Country?
- Describe the profound significance of preserving these sculptures and their stories for the benefit of future generations within the Pitta Pitta community.
- How do repatriation efforts play a pivotal role in reclaiming and honoring First Nations' cultural heritage?
- Discuss the importance of showing respecting and valuing First Nations' knowledge and traditions in preserving cultural artifacts like these sculptures.
- What are some of the challenges and emotions associated with the non-Indigenous possession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artifacts?
- How might organisations like the Royal Historical Society proactively contribute to repatriation efforts and cultural preservation?
- Research the Royal Historical Society and share findings with the group.
- How does the use of limestone and the intricate mourning headdresses on the sculptures provide important clues that offer insights into the history and culture of the area? What were the social and political policies in place when these carvings were being produced? How did these policies influence the need to create these types of sculptures?
The Arts – Sculptures and Carvings Lesson 2
- Continuing on from the last lesson, students research Aboriginal carvings and sculptures. They explore how artists and historians can date, locate, and interpret artifacts based on specific aspects that offer clues to support our understanding of a culture or period in history.
- Divide students into small groups and assign each group an artifact (painting, pottery, textiles, etc.) Some links can be found here to support the activity, though teachers are advised to find their own links to better suit their art and history units.
- Links: The Art of Classical Greece (ca. 480-323 B.C.) | Essay | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
- Ancient Artifacts - Virtual Tour - Joy of Museums Virtual Tours
- Distribute the Observation Artefact sheet
- Students use the observation worksheet with questions to guide their analysis of the artifacts.
- Students examine and discuss the assigned artifacts, noting cultural context, materials used, and potential historical significance. They record their findings in the worksheet provided.
- Rotate groups to analyse different artifacts.
- In what ways do the intricate patterns and symbols found in traditional Indigenous textiles around the world offer insights into the stories, beliefs, purpose, and values of the community that created them?
- How might the use of natural materials and resources impact the intended purpose and longevity of the textiles?
The Arts – Sculptures and Carvings Lesson 3
- Watch "The Journey Home: Reconciliation through Repatriation," a film about repatriation, on ABC iView or by clicking on the film icon in the Pitta Pitta Discovery Maps.
- Distribute the 'compass' worksheet on Repatriation for students to work independently on the tasks below.
Answer the questions below and complete the activities on the Compass Repatriation worksheet.
- In your own words, define cultural repatriation.
- Dr Lyndon Norman Parker discusses how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples objected to the removal of their Ancestors and sacred objects for many years. Why do you think they felt this way? When was the first recorded objection?
- Why do you think the repatriation of ancestral remains or sacred objects might be an emotional process for the communities involved?
- What were the ideologies behind taking the remains and/or artifacts during colonisation? How might these reasons have been considered unethical?
- In the panel discussion, Matt Poll discusses the term 'eugenics'. Research the meaning of eugenics and write a brief definition.
- Further Investigate the life of Truganini as discussed by Laura McBride. Reflect on the historical significance of having her family's remains in a museum and the impact this had on Truganini.
- How can legislation support the repatriation movement?
- How might communities and institutions work together to respectfully preserve histories and culture in the repatriation process?
- Explore the arguments against repatriation, particularly when it comes to preserving First Nations knowledge, culture, and heritage in central museums.
- Why do you think returning ancestral remains is more meaningful and emotional than returning special and sacred objects? Additionally, what are the ethical reasons making the repatriation of ancestral remains so important?
The Arts – Sculptures and Carvings Lesson 4
- Following on from the last lesson, discuss the importance of repatriation in preserving cultural heritage, reconnecting First Nations' communities with their past, and promoting reconciliation.
- Students investigate famous repatriation efforts worldwide, understanding the significance of returning cultural artifacts and remains to their places of origin. They choose one particular piece and create a multimedia presentation to share their findings.
Below are some examples of repatriation efforts around the world with Indigenous groups.
- The Willandra Lakes Region: In 1994, the remains of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady were repatriated to the traditional owners of the Willandra Lakes Region in New South Wales.
- Maori and Moriori Remains: New Zealand has been involved in multiple repatriation efforts to return Ancestral remains, including Maori and Moriori remains, from institutions worldwide.
- Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA): The NAGPRA, enacted in the United States in 1990, requires federal agencies and museums to repatriate Native American cultural items to their respective tribes.
- Rosetta Stone: In 1802, the Rosetta Stone, a significant ancient Egyptian artifact, was repatriated from France to the British Museum in London.
- Nefertiti Bust: The bust of Queen Nefertiti, an ancient Egyptian artifact, was repatriated from Germany to Egypt in 1924.
- Cultural Patrimony: The Native Hawaiian Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) has facilitated the repatriation of cultural patrimony to Hawaii
- Students present their findings to the class using a multimedia presentation .
- How do you think the process of cultural repatriation can contribute to healing historical injustices, fostering mutual respect, and understanding between the communities involved?