Cultural context

Smoking pipes are part of the traditional life and material culture of the different Indigenous groups of Australia. In Arnhem Land, it was introduced by the Indonesian traders who were visiting the northern shores of the continent for hundreds of years, well before the ‘modern’ history.
In Northeast Arnhem Land the most popular material Yolŋu use for making pipe is a tree called bamutuka, that has soft heartwood so it can be hollowed out easily. Up until around the ’70s, smoking pipes (luŋiny) and tobacco (ŋarali’) was only allowed for ‘Elders’ or clan leaders, and even touching pipes by others was punished by the Traditional Law. Making and smoking luŋiny is still in practice by the older generation.