Yolŋu have been using local plant fibres to weave everyday functional objects that serve their daily needs since precolonisation. This includes ŋaṉmarra (conical mats), dhomala (canoe sails) and get(skirts). Today the techniques used to create ŋaṉmarra, dhomala and get are applied to mät (contemporary two dimensional woven art objects). Yolŋu have been adapting these techniques since the 1930s to make flat woven artworks that are appreciated today for their high craftsmanship and aesthetic qualities.
Ŋaṉmarra were worn by Yolŋu women as skirts as well as to swaddle, cover and protect children while sleeping. When folded in half the ŋaṉmarra becomes a safe place for yothu to rest on their stomach and play with the fringes. Larger ŋaṉmarra are opened up to make a dome that girls sit under during womens coming of age ceremony. The smell of the pandanus is known to ward off insects as well as mokuy (spirits) at bay.
Mät made today can be used in similar ways and vary according to an artist’s individual style.