November 19, 2016

0107, 2872 AUSTRALIA - Indigenous Australians

2872 Australian Aboriginal men in Top End, taking part in a ceremony
which is accompanied by the haunting music of the didgeridoo

Posted on 26.01.2012, 19.11.2016
Human habitation of the Australia is estimated to have begun between 42,000 and 48,000 years ago, possibly with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia. These first inhabitants may have been ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. Australia's Aboriginal culture probably represents the oldest surviving culture in the world, with the use of stone tool technology and painting with red ochre pigment dating back over 60,000 years. Australians never developed an "iron age", "bronze age", or pottery.

0107 An elder Australian Aboriginal,
his grandson and a Goanna

There is great diversity among different Indigenous communities in Australia, each with its own mixture of cultures, customs and languages. At the time of initial European settlement, over 250 languages were spoken; it is currently estimated that 120 to 145 of these remain in use, but only 13 of these are not considered endangered. Although Aboriginal society was generally semi-nomadic, moving according to the changing food availability found across different areas as seasons changed, the mode of life and material cultures varied greatly from region to region.

The population of Indigenous Australians at the time of permanent European settlement has been estimated at between 318,000 and 1,000,000 with the distribution being similar to that of the current Australian population, with the majority living in the south-east, centred along the Murray River. In 2006, their number  was estimated to be 517,200, representing about 2.5% of the population of Australia. It should be remembered that they weren't a part of any statistics until 1967, being treated as subhumans.

Australian Aboriginal culture includes a number of practices and ceremonies centered on a belief in the Dreamtime, which is considered to be both the ancient time of creation and the present day reality of Dreaming. The term "Dreaming" is directly based on the term Altjira (Alchera), the name of a spirit or entity in the mythology of the Aranda. In Dreamtime an individual's entire ancestry exists as one, culminating in the idea that all worldly knowledge is accumulated through one's ancestors.

Each clan-grouping has an important religious specialist who will initiate and foster contact with spirits and divinities. Specific elders may also be keepers of specific stories or rituals. Sometimes this knowledge is segregated according to gender - there is men's business and women's business. Aborigines have complex social laws and kinship, difficult to understand for non-Aboriginal people, but is a natural part of life for Aborigines, and its details vary from tribe to tribe.

For Aboriginals, the ceremonies bring together all aspects of their culture (song, dance, body decoration, sculpture and painting), and contains many significant elements, some of which are specifically related to depicting Dreaming stories. Music is a vital part of their cultural maintenance, and songs make up a songline which is a map of the country based on the travels of the Dreaming ancestors. These expressions of music, art, song, dance and performance are seen as separate commodities in the Western world, but from an Aboriginal perspective they are all part of a complex whole.

Didgeridoo is one of the great icons of Aboriginal culture, widespread today in all of Australia, but the truth is that this instrument was originally found only in Arnhem Land (Northern Territory) and known as yidaki. It is a wind instrument, probable the world's oldest musical instrument, and consists of a tube which is made from limbs and tree trunks hollowed out by termites. In traditional situations it is played only by men, usually as an accompaniment to ceremonial or recreational singing.

The photo in the postcard 0107 is signed by the multi award-winning Australian photographer Alastair McNaughton, born in England in 1949, but a lover of traveling. "He eats, lives and travels with the people he photographs - to capture the right image, he believes, it's necessary to understand how people live, the problems that beset them, and their own picture of the world. […] Alastair spent four years with the Wongi Aboriginal community at Coonana in the Western Australian desert." (desertimages.com.au).

About the stamps
On the postcard 0107
The first stamp is a personalized one. The left half is part of a series of self-adhesive greetings stamps entitled For Special Occasions and issued on July 19, 2010, and the right half is a photograph taken by Heather (the sender) herself.
   
The second stamp is part of the series Air Force Aviation, designed by Jamie Tufrey and Simone Sakinofsky, and issued on  February 22, 2011 to mark the 90th anniversary of the RAAF.
• F 111 Pig (0.60 AUD)
• F/A-18F (0.60 AUD)
• Wedgetail (1.20 AUD) - It’s on the postcard 0107
• C-17 (3.00 AUD)

On the postcard 2872
The stamp is one of the two of the set Australian Animals - Monotremes, designed by Mary Callahan and issued on September 26, 2016.
• Ornithorhynchus anatinus (2.10 AUD)
• Tachyglossus aculeatus (2.95 AUD) - It’s on the postcard 2871

References
Indigenous Australians - Wikipedia
Australian Aboriginal culture - Wikipedia
Aboriginal Culture - A website about Australia's Aboriginal culture
Australian indigenous ceremony - song, music and dance - Australian Government official website

Sender 0107: Heather (direct swap)
Sent from Perth (Western Australia), on 10.01.2012
Photo: Alastair McNaughton
Sender 2872: Penny Hamilton
Sent from Cabarlah (Queensland / Australia), on 20.10.2016
Photo:Belinda Wright

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