I’m excited to finally launch 8 precious carved Boab nuts in my online shop.
They all recently arrived directly from the town of Kununurra in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and have been beautifully and skilfully carved with intricate designs by the indigenous artists of the area, and make unique and gorgeous decorative pieces for your home.
I made a trip to the Kimberley back in May of this year to take part in what was an incredible 6 day horse trek across this vast, remote and stunning outback landscape.
My first port of call, the town of Kununurra. It was here while wandering the streets on a quiet Saturday afternoon that I met artist Yvonne Newry and saw for the first time the beauty of the carved Boab nut.
I had spotted my first Boab tree only moments before (having landed only that morning) and did not know terribly much about the Boab or the relationship between the majestic bottle shaped tree and the Aboriginal people of this land.
The trees are only found in two areas of Australia, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and in the Victoria River area of the Northern Territory. The trees themselves have been used for tens of thousands of years by the Aboriginal people as a form of shelter and the nuts themselves as a food source, a medicine and as a percussion instrument in their corroborees.
This tree is as synonymous with the Kimberley region as the art of carving or engraving is to the Aboriginal people, and the fruit (the Boab nut) gives the indigenous artists another medium for their talent in both carving and painting, with many artists now specialising in this beautiful art form.
Here in the Kimberley the nuts which are covered in a fur like coating are gathered from the ground or picked from the trees during the months from June to August (the dry season ), with the best nuts for carving being picked July to August, as these nuts have a low water content and the internal part of the nut has decreased in size.
The actual collecting of the nuts can in itself be an important social occasion and may be part of ‘womens business’ and ‘mens business’.
Before they are able to engrave the nuts the outside fur coating that surrounds it must be taken off with either sand paper or a scrubbing brush and it is then that the dark brown colour of the nut is revealed. The depth of the colour depends on the mineral content of the soil where the nut was collected, some nuts may be red or even almost black in colour.
The tools used by the indigenous artists to engrave the nuts include razor blades, pocket knives, sharpened table knives, bits of tin can as well as the more formal engraving tools. The time spent engraving depends very much on the size of the nut and complexity and intricacy of the design.
The artists depict all manner of flora and fauna as well as their totems such as kangaroos, crocodiles, goannas, turtles, birds, echidnas and other native animals.
The indigenous artists of Australia are some of the most talented artists in the country. Their work is strongly linked to their culture, for it is through their art as well as dance and ceremony that they tell their stories and pass them from one generation to the next. It is a vitally important means of communication and a way of keeping their culture alive and strong.