"Raft-riiji", by Bruce Wiggan
Aboriginal people of the Dampier Peninsula have been collecting and trading guwan — Pinctada maxima (large pearl shell), for over 20,000 years. At least 3,000 years ago Aboriginal people began engraving the surface of the shell with ochres to create riji. Traditionally worn by men and used in ceremony, they were a highly valued trade item in the traditional exchange networks that crossed the continent. Bardi elder Bruce Wiggan is a modern riji artist, working with Cygnet Bay Pearls to promote this artform. This engraving of the gaalwa, the traditional raft made from mangrove poles, celebrates the innovative technology of his Saltwater people, who with their intimate knowledge of the tides and currents, hunted and navigated on these rafts through the treacherous waters of King Sound, travelling between the islands and mainland.