Aboriginal Clothing

Traditional Aboriginal clothing was not the same in the whole Australia.

What Aboriginal people wore when they lived in tribes, depended on where in Australia they lived.

In southern, colder parts of the country they wore coats, while up north in the tropics where it was too hot, they either wore minimal clothing or were naked and covered their bodies in body paintings.

aboriginal clothing
      Making Aboriginal clothing by Royal Botanic Garden Sydney via Flickr.com

Northern Warm Regions

In warm regions in the tropical northern Australia, there was no need for clothes. Traditionally Aboriginal People in those areas didn’t use any clothes, but covered their bodies in paintings. In the Kimberley region in north Western Australia, particularly in Broome area, men wore rijis – pubic coverings made of pearl shells, and attached to a belt around the waist by hair strings. Hair strings were made by women. All cut hair was saved, and spun into long threads, which could be used as headbands, ropes and belts, or even woven into textiles. Sometimes grasses were combined with hair to make tougher textiles. Typically Spinifex grasses were used in the inland, while on the northern coasts, pandanus leaves, which are known for their strength, were used. Bark was also sometimes used for textiles, and more commonly for making baskets.

Southern Cool Regions
In the cooler south eastern parts of Australia, in today’s New South Wales and Victoria, Aboriginal people commonly wore possum cloaks. They were made of many possum skins sewn together, and they were rubbed in fat to better protect from the cold. They were often also decorated by ochre colours. The cloaks were also used as blankets and mattresses.


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