Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The next instalment of our Mystery Object Revealed!

A peculiar old netted bag has been up on a pedestal for the past month at Hurstville Museum & Gallery. This object, our second instalment of Mystery Objects in the exhibition Revealed, has had visitors even more stumped than the first (see Mystery Object Revealed!). Yes, we know it’s a bag, but what was it used for? What did it carry?

Again, we asked our visitors to have a guess and write a label for this unusual object. Several visitors suggested that it was a fishing net or used to hold fish once they were caught. Another thought it might have been like a cage to hold small animals such as possums. Such close guesses!

Our mystery object was actually used to trap and catch rabbits! It was also known as a purse net because of the drawstring top. The bag would be placed over the entrance to rabbit burrows and secured with a peg through the drawstring. That way when rabbits ran out and into the bag, pulling it away from the burrow, they would inevitably draw the string closed upon themselves. Pretty nifty!

Catching bags or nets of this kind have been used for centuries for a variety of different purposes and by different people. The Perth Gazette Newspaper (14 March 1840) tells of Aboriginal people using similar nets made from spun bark to catch small animals.

Our next and final mystery object is now on display at Hurstville Museum & Gallery. Don’t miss your chance to guess it!

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