Drunmung (shield) made by a Gunai/Kurnai man from the Gippsland Lakes region some time before 1878. These narrow, wedge-shaped shields were used by men from Victorian and south-eastern Aboriginal groups during pre-contact and early colonial times. Made of solid but light wood from the inner timber of a tree, they were shaped using stone tools or mussel shells. They were effective defensive weapons against clubs and other hand-held weapons during close combat.

Physical Description

Carved wooden shield with pointed ends and a handle carved into it. The leading faces, away from handle, are incised with a finely executed zig-zag or multiple herring bone pattern. Anterior bowed, posterior bulge at handle, pointed at both ends. The sections are bi-convex for both the longitudal and transverse.

Local Name

Drunmung or Mulga


When viewing this shield in 2012, Gunai/Kurnai Elder and wood carver Uncle Albert Mullett, said;

'The designs were engraved with a fine piece of stone attached to a stick, imagine a pencil with a sharp blade. The wood would have been green when this was made; there is lots of moisture in Gunai/Kurnai wood because of the sea, rivers and estuaries in the vicinity. The salt from such water is absorbed by the nearby trees, curing the wood and making it ideal for carving and engraving. When I finish my shields I mix ochre and fat, it preserves the wood and keeps the colour, once you let your wood set, rub a bit of animal fat into it, the longer you leave the wood, the deeper the colour gets'. Uncle Albert Mullett, 2012

More Information