Fashion & textiles

Queensland Museum holds an amazing array of personal adornment objects used by Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. As with fashions everywhere, these objects make a statement about personal identity and style, and signify cultural, social and political affiliations. Many are used in events and ceremonies.

In the past Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders only used natural fibres from plants and animals to make items such as hair ornaments, necklaces, headbands, skirts, hats, armbands, fans, combs, waist bands, headdresses, masks, belts, and leg bands. The choice of raw material depended on local availability and trade networks. For example, in the northern rainforests, bark blankets were beaten from fig tree fibre while in western Queensland kangaroo skins were used as clothing.

Feathers, bark fibres, kangaroo sinew, shells, grass and human hair continue to be used to make these objects. Since European Invasion Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders have added new materials to their crafts, while continuing to share stories and knowledge of land, family and lore that accompany these activities. 

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

Related Links