Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Ochre in the context of Aboriginal culture

Local Grenfell resident and historian, Ian Pitt, recently gave me a copy of a brochure titled “Ochre Dreaming – Victoria’s Aboriginal Tourism experience” produced by the Aboriginal Tourism Marketing Association. Ian sent me the document in light of his personal interest in Ochre Arch (having lived on the property from 1981 to 1987) and our recent discovery that Aborigines had mined red-orange ochre from underneath the natural arch on the property. What follows is a verbatim copy of the information about ochre in the context of Aboriginal culture, set out on the inside front cover of the brochure:

“Ochre is a natural earth pigment which has been used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Aboriginal people believe that ochre has spiritual power which is released through ceremonial ritual. Red ochre is considered sacred. In tradfitional Aboriginal life, ochre was a highly prized commodity used as currency in the Aboriginal trade system when clan groups traveled great distances for ceremony and Trade. Particular worth was placed on ochre from certain areas with mythological significance. Archaeological evidence shows that ochre was used in ceremonial rituals and almost every excavation older than 10,000 years uncovers quantities of ochre. Modern Aboriginals employ ochre for painted designs used in ceremonial body decoration and for paintings on bark or canvas. The ochre is ground to a fine powder and water is added to achieve the desired colour and consistency. Ochre is applied in a variety of ways according to the purpose and design. It is often applied through blowing from the mouth to achieve a splatter effect. For fine art work brushes made of hair or a chewed twig are used.”

Thanks Ian! For those wanting further Aboriginal tourism information check out http://www.seeaboriginaltourism.com/

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