NMA collection record

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Copy negative - Women carrying water, Wadaman people, Northern Territory, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1922

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Women carrying water, 1922


This is a photograph by Herbert Basedow of four young women walking toward the camera carrying solid oblong containers slung over one shoulder with a string rope. One woman is wearing a cloth headband and a string skirt.

Educational value

Men and women usually gather food separately. While men hunt for larger game or fish, women search for foods such as root vegetables, seeds and berries, and catch small animals that cross their path. Children often accompanied the women, or would stay in the camp to be looked after by older adults. Because men could not always catch a large animal like a kangaroo, women would often provide the only food for the day's meals.

Herbert Basedow was a doctor, anthropologist and explorer. From 1903 to 1928 he ventured to remote regions of central and northern Australia - places rarely seen by Australians even today. Aboriginal people often feature in his photographs. Basedow wanted to document Aboriginal cultures as they had been before British colonisation, and often went to some lengths to craft his photographs to appear as such.

This photograph was taken during an expedition to the Victoria River district south-west of Darwin in the Northern Territory, on behalf of the Mararoa Gold Mining Company.

© Education Services Australia Limited and the National Museum of Australia 2010

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