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Aboriginal Coolamon

An Aboriginal coolamon is an aboriginal dish or container. There are several different distinctive styles of aboriginal coolamon from different aboriginal tribes. In general, the value of a coolamon will depend on its rarity age and the beauty of the design.



I am a keen collector of Aboriginal Coolamon and traditional Aboriginal Artefacts. If you want to sell an aboriginal coolamon please feel free to contact me by email and send me some images.


Coolamon are primarily for aboriginal women to use to carry things. They carried tools, babies, food and, depending on its shape, water. A coolamons secondary functions included use in digging and winnowing . In arid areas, collected seed tossed in the air to allow the wind to blow away the husks.

Coolamon carved from a piece of the outer bark of a tree trunk in the intended shape are the most common. The piece of bark then shaped into a vessel using an adze. Some were heat moulded using fire to bend the sides.

Coolamon could be carried under the arm or on the head. To carry the vessel on her head an aboriginal woman balanced it on a ring pad made from human hair, possum fur, twisted grass,or bark.

Coolamon were often rubbed with animal fat such as the fat from emus. This prevented cracking. As well as nourishing the wood this made it waterproof and gave it a shiny appearance.

Coolamon as art

The simple elegance of some coolamon take them from being an aboriginal artifact and become aboriginal art. Collectors of coolamon often prefer examples which are finely fluted and well balanced. Age rarity and patina are also found highly desirable.

Great coolamon often have understated organic elegance.

Bark Coolamons


In the Kimberley and in Arnhem land some coolamon are not made from wood but from folded spathe. These are often called bark Coolamon. The ends are folded up and tied with hunam hair string

Bark Coolamon painted by Lily Karedada

Coolamon as Canvass

Due to the shape of a coolamon, they were also used as a canvass and decorated coolamon became common artifacts produced for sale.

Made for sale coolamon are not very collectible unless they are by a particular artist.

Coolamon decorated with pokerwork are very common and not very collectible.



Coolamon painted by Mickey Bunguna

Aboriginal Coolamon painted by

Queenie Nakarra McKenzie

Poker Work Coolamon

Mick Namari


Donkeyman lee 


Aboriginal Weapons and Artifacts

All images in this article are for educational purposes only.

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Some more examples of  Aboriginal coolamon

Other tribal wooden bowls from the Pacific islands
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