Back in 1999, Djalu’ blew my mind with his ridiculously simple fix for a knothole in a new, in-progress yidaki. Maybe he did this all the time. I’m not sure. I never happened to see it again. I present the photos here online for the first time, in their full, highly-compressed, 640×480 1999 digital camera quality.
Djalu’ found a particularly good yidaki, so sat down to work on it right there in the bush. Here he is carving away the bark and outer layers with a draw knife.
Whoops! It’s hard to see, but in the yellowish area, Djalu’ exposed a knothole as he carved down the wood. To the right of the instrument in this photo, he is carving a small wedge of wood out of the trimmings.
Next, he hammered that little wedge into the hole (with the not often recommended technique of holding a knife blade and hammering with the handle).
He switched to an axe. That’s better.
The result: a non-leaky yidaki with a protrusion.
Then, he simply sawed off the protrusion with the blade right against the yidaki.
Voila. Knothole filled. Good as new. The instrument was finished, glued, painted, and sold to one of you out there who has no idea that this ever happened.
There you go. Djalu’ Gurruwiwi, yidaki master with all the cool tricks.
You can see some more photos from that and the following day on the antiquated website about my first visit to Arnhem Land at https://gingerroot.com/oztrip/yirrkala/yidaki/index.htm.