Macassans by Rosa Marnga

My design is about the Macassans coming across from Indonesia and trading with our old people. They would bring their tamarinds and trade them for our sea cucumber (trepang). We had many sea cucumbers growing on our islands here. They would trade other things as well - tools, knives and spearheads.

The ‘giant’ (in the design) was the one the Macassans used to deal with. He was my ancestor. He was the leader of the Gaambera people, he was the one who looked after our country.

He was the biggest fella - maybe 6 foot tall. The Macassans had to go through him. He would make the deal with the Macassans, and then other people from our country and surrounding country would come to him to trade goods for the tamarinds. This was all happening a long time ago - before the missionaries came around. People wanted the tamarinds, they liked the taste. Sometimes they would mix it with the fish for extra flavour but mostly they just ate them - just like lollies! The tamarind trees grow wild around here now - because of when the Indonesians came across to trade.

My design is about the Macassans coming across from Indonesia and trading with our old people.”

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