Aboriginal men from south-eastern groups used drunmung (parrying shields) during single, close combat to ward off heavy blows from clubs and throwing sticks, such as the kud-jee-run and the leon-ile.

Ironbark was the wood of preference for making drunmung, but box gum was most commonly used. The timber would often be cut from the trunk of the tree and then shaped. Occasionally it would be buried in the ground to soften it for engraving, which was done using a sharp stone, volcanic glass or a possum-tooth or sharp stone attached to the end of a small stick.
This drunmung features intricate crosshatching, a geometric design frequently found on Aboriginal material culture, including on possum-skin cloaks. Traditional Victorian art is very linear, and just as the carved marks found on tree (dendroglyphs) identify individuals and their clan affiliations, markings on shields and possum-skin cloaks also have distinct meanings, relating to individuals and their Country.

Physical Description

This carved wooden drunmung (parrying shield) is narrow and deep with an oval shaped profile. It has a handle carved into it. It has incised decoration in the form of 8 panels of a herringbone lattice-like pattern to the front side of the handle.

Local Name



This drunmung (shield) was made by a Wurundjeri man. The Wurundjeri people of the Woi Wurrung language group are the recognised Traditional Owners of a large geographically diverse region of Victoria.
Clubs, eel traps, baskets, shields and boomerangs continued to be made by the First Peoples of south-eastern Australia well into the 20th century both for personal use and as items of trade. Many First Peoles groups throughout south-eastern Australia continue to make these items today, keeping skills and knowledge alive. In Victoria today, Aboriginal communities continue to grow and to celebrate their living, vibrant culture.

Wurundjeri-willam artist Mandy Nicholson explains the feeling she gets from sharing knowledge, participating in ceremony and celebrating her culture;

'I've got goose bumps, it sends shivers down my body, knowing that the old people are with me when I'm teaching these younger ones.' Mandy Nicholson, 2014

Wheeler Centre/National Gallery of Victoria 2014, Viewed September 1, 2017

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