Traditional Aboriginal Pukumani - Mortuary Ceremony
These poles are placed around the burial site during the ceremony. Interesting in this photo are the christian crosses.
They symbolize the status and prestige of the deceased. Participants in the ceremony are painted with natural ochres in many different designs, transforming the dancers and providing protection against recognition by the spirit of the deceased.
Pukumani poles are carved from ironwood and decorated with white clay, black charcoal, and yellow or red ochre mixed with water and glue. These poles are today produced either to be sold or used by the Aborigines of the Tiwi Islands in their burial rituals where the Pukumani ritual is the last and largest in a number of Tiwi rituals, performed a few months after the person has diseased.