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Meriam House

Gallery Images: Daytime Shade  |  Aboriginal Camp  |  Meriam House  |  Platform Shelter  |  Stilt Shelter  |  Indigenous Shelter  |  Indigenous Shelter (two)  |  Indigenous Shelter (three)  |  Indigenous Shleter (four)  |  Indigenous Shelter (five)

Meriam House

Meriam House

A Meriam domed house, this being a particularly large example with a central post rather than a free-spanning dome structure. Due to the horticultural economy of the eastern Torres Strait Islands, the lifestyle was quite sedentary and much energy was expended on the construction of these houses. The interior sometimes contained tiered sleeping platforms and storage racks, with a fireplace next to the door. (Memmott)

Original Caption

"Late 19th century. The horticultural communities of the fertile eastern islands had, perhaps, the most substantial shelters in the Torres Strait region. Sturdy frameworks of saplings arched from a circumference of foundation posts to a centre pole. Split bamboo lathes held the thatch, usually blady grass (Imperata cylindrica), which grew profusely in the rich soil. As a defensive measure, the doorway was low, permitting entry by crawling. A heavy board, cut from the side of an old canoe, closed the aperture. The interior was organised in a complex of tiered sleeping platforms and storage racks, with a fireplace next to the door……Few houses of this design were built after the turn of the century. Under the influence of Europeans and South Sea Islanders, the Meriam adopted gable-roof buildings of rectangular plan….." (Wilson 1993:11)


AERC Reference No: I20
Region: Torres Strait
Place: Mer
Tribal/Language Group: Meriam.
Other collection/reference nos.: Wilson, L. 1993. Kerkar Lu: Contemporary Artefacts of the Torres Strait Islanders. Department of Education, Queensland, p. 11.

Source(s) of Image: Qld Museum, Brisbane

Images on these pages are only for teaching and research purposes within the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre

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Last updated: Oct 28, 2005