Torres Strait dancers wearing dhari headdresses.
[s.l. : s.n., probably between 1900 and 1910]. Glass magic lantern slide with hand colouring, 82 x 82 mm; the mount inscribed (erroneously) ‘New Guinea, Papuan Natives. A festive tribal dance’; old ms. label to edge of mount ‘New Guinea. Tribal Dance’; in fine condition.
Made in the early 1900s, probably for a missionary society either in the United Kingdom or Australia, this slide actually depicts a Torres Strait Islands dance.
‘The Dhari is the distinctive traditional dance and ceremonial headdress of the Torres Strait. It is the central motif on the region’s flag and symbolises the identity and unity of all Torres Strait Islanders.
Dhari is the Meriam Mir word for ‘headdress’ and is used in the eastern islands. In the central and western islands where Kala Lagaw Ya is spoken, the headdress is called Dhoeri. Customarily worn and made by males, dhari designs vary from island to island.
Dharis/Dhoeris were traditionally made from Frigate Bird and Torres Strait Pigeon feathers but are now made from a wide and often creative range of materials including heavy cardboard, plywood, chicken feathers and cane.
When wearing dharis at night for performances, the dancers shake their heads to vibrate the spokes, causing a brilliant shimmering effect, described as being like the glint of a pearl shell dropped in water.’ (Queensland Museum)