Reclaiming tradition and re-affirming cultural identity through creating Kangaroo Skin Cloaks and Possum Skin Cloaks

Lynette Riley


Wiradjuri people traditionally made Kangaroo Skin Cloaks and Possum Skin Cloaks to wear for warmth and protection. They were highly valued items used for trade as well as marriage gifts or peace offerings. The cloaks were also used for ceremonial purposes, where the underside of the pelt is incised with various designs to indicate the person’s Moiety and Totemic connection as well as their journey through life and that person’s status within Nations and across Clan groups. As Aboriginal people were colonised and cultural transmission was criminalised, government blankets replaced the Kangaroo and Possum Skin Cloaks and cloak making skills were not allowed.

In this paper I talk about the Kangaroo and Possum Skin Cloaks created. Through the process of creating the cloaks I utilise and share knowledge from my Elders and I am re-learning Wiradjuri symbols.

While my cloaks have been exhibited in museums and art galleries, they are also a personal gift for whom they are made and include: family histories, bloodlines telling their story using designs which are symbolic of that person. Traditionally the cloak would be worn by the person it was designed for in all ceremonies, initiations and be an extension of that person.

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