Possum Skin Jacket

Contributed by The Australian Museum

Possum skin cloak - made by Mor Mor (Maureen Reyland), Muthi Muthi Aboriginal people (copyright Australian Museum)

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Possum skin jackets were popular with Aborigines who lived in south-east Australia (present-day Victoria and New South Wales).

Worn on a daily basis, the jackets were an important part of 'clan identity' and were often decorated with clan insignias.

Each cloak contains about thirty five possum skins that have been sown together with kangaroo sinew. The cloaks were a vital means of keeping warm and were often handed down through generations as heirlooms.

The jackets played an important part in helping people to reach the afterlife. Individuals would be buried in their cloaks, that then acted as a vessel, taking them from life to death.

The existence of such cloaks came to light in early 19th century by western settlers to Australia.

This example was made by Mor Mor (Maureen Reyland) of the Muthi Muthi Aboriginal people in 2005 and acquired by the Australian Museum in 2009 with the assistance of the Gwendoline A West Bequest.

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Comments

  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 05:35 on 9 June 2010, Amanda Reynolds wrote:

    Hi everyone,

    I am sitting here with Mor Mor (Maureen) and we thought you might like to hear a little more about the cloak ...

    "I come from the Mungo Muthi Muthi tribe. My mother Alice Kelly is now deceased. Mother's life work for all of Aboriginal people and Mungo is a great gift for all to come and feel the past within the sands of time ...

    My spiritual painting and stories show my spiritual ancestors.

    The snake is for Creation, the circles are the sacred sands of Mungo, the eggs are the past, present and future. Blue for the water, yellow for the sun, green for the trees and red for the fire. The threads represent the umbilical cord for all Aboriginal people." Mor Mor

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