This presentation invites questions about the way performance objects manifest cosmological unity. “[T]he framework of the crosses is the bone, ornad, of the ancestor-dancer, while the wool is the flesh of the ancestor-dancer’s body” (Kleinert and Neale 2000: 348). These words from David Mowarljarlai tell the Ngarinyin conception of the objects known throughout the Kimberley as 'balmarra'. Bundled together with other performance objects across Australia under the generic term “thread crosses”, 'balmarra' vary drastically in shape and scale, meaning and context.
For corroboree composer Alan Griffiths his 'balmarra' manifest star constellations, places and people. They are specific and remain constant. In the film "Dance Time at Kalumburu" (Lucich 1965) a 'balmarra' carried by two men changes its meaning from being at one time a boat to then being the rainbow snake—'ungud'. This is done by the different way it is manipulated by the performers. Here is a clear example of the object itself holding no inherent meaning but being a theatrical device which is controlled by the performers intentions. The way Alan Griffiths uses objects in his corroborees is not as representations but as manifestations of ever-present aspects of existence. The performers enable the experience of those manifestations through an artistic process. For those who appreciate their meaning these 'balmarra' are sung and danced into a living 'Ngarranggarni' (dreamings) through the act of performance.