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Film negative - Women carrying large plaited baskets, Liverpool River, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1928

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Women carrying large baskets and a child, 1928


This is a photograph by Herbert Basedow of two women, each carrying a basket suspended by a rope around her head. One of the women also holds a child. A dog is at the right of the frame, facing away from the camera. The ground is sandy, but in the background is vegetation, including several trees.

Educational value

These women and a child were photographed by Basedow in 1928 when he came upon a camp of people next to the Liverpool River in Arnhem Land. Neither he nor his Aboriginal assistants could communicate fully with the Arnhem Land people and Basedow could do little more than photograph them and observe what he saw while he was with them for a few hours.

The baskets are probably woven from pandanus leaves and used for carrying food.

The dog in this image might be a dingo. Aboriginal people would sometimes take dogs to help with hunting, or keep them for companionship.

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 a four-month exploration of Arnhem Land, south-east of Darwin in the Northern Territory.

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

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