Ngarrindjeri basket weaving

By Monica O’Wheel

On Sunday 7 August 2016, twenty six women met at Payneham Community Centre to learn Ngarrindjeri Basket Weaving from Vicki Hartman, a skilled and experienced Ngarrindjeri weaver and teacher.

We had pulled the reeds used in this weaving from Lochiel Park wetland and from Laretelare Park at Port Adelaide. Getting to know the reeds, Cyperus gymnocaulos and Cyperus vaginatus, was the first learning we shared. The reeds are identifiable by the new plants sprouting from the seed heads and the three prong cluster of leaflets at the top of the reed. We potted these seedlings on and distributed them to be grown in our backyards for further weaving.

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Vicki taught us how to start and continue to weave. She also told us stories of her life and the part weaving played in Ngarrindjeri life. The weaving uses one reed for sewing bundles of reeds together in a spiral pattern. Vicki displayed some of her beautiful work, and after our own attempts we could appreciate her skill more fully.

We shared the abundant contributions for lunch and chatted while concentrating on our weaving.

Comments from participants:

It was a wonderful day both from a learning, and a community gathering aspect.
It was a wonderful, relaxing and well taught workshop!
I had a fabulous time and really enjoyed (re-)learning basket weaving. I got home and just couldn’t stop but it is far from finished. luckily I took some of the reeds home and will finish my basket soon.

One of the joys of this workshop was the connection between pulling native plants close to home, to learning living Ngarrindjeri cultural skills and making something ourselves we can use in our daily lives.

We will have another workshop with Vicki next year and already have many people on the waiting list.

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