Summary

Broad shields were generally used to deflect spears and their handles were either carved into the reverse side or fixed as a separate handle into holes drilled into the back. The Manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) was often used to make these shields, which are known by Aboriginal names such as Gee-am, Kerreem and Bam-er-ook. Tools made from stone and animal incisors (such as from marsupials) were used to engrave the surface with intricate designs. The history of the 'ownership' of such objects between leaving the possession of Aboriginal people and becoming into the museum's collections is diverse and often obscure. Early collectors acquired objects such as these because it was believed that Aboriginal people were 'a dying race', and this belief and the growing interest in ethnography created a very robust trade in Aboriginal objects in the earliest decades of settlement in New South Wales and Victoria.

Physical Description

A broad shield made from a single piece of hardwood tapering to a point at both ends and painted with natural pigments. The concave outer surface is divided into two columns, each with four rectangular sections separated by bands painted with red ochre. The rectangular segments are incised either with a chevron or herringbone pattern or dots and these are infilled with white pipe clay. The handle is carved out on the reverse side.

Significance

This shield is decorated with elaborate and distinctive designs typical of the art of southeastern Australia. The central vertical line on the outer surface is intersected by three horizontal bands and painted with red ochre. This contrasts with intricate patterning incised into the outer surface and infilled with white pipe clay. The patterning is offset with dots used in two section in contrast to the zig zag or herringbone patterning across the rest of the face. No documentation has been located about the source of this shield either who collected it or where and when it was collected.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Australian Indigenous - South-eastern Australia

  • Maker

    Unknown

  • Date Produced

    1891

  • Date Collected

    1891

  • Locality

    Victoria, Australia

  • Medium

    Natural pigments

  • Technique

    Carving, painting

  • Support

    Wood

  • Object/Medium

    Shield

  • Category

    Indigenous Collections

  • Discipline

    Anthropology

  • Type of item

    Object

  • Object Measurements

    965 mm (Length), 210 mm (Width), 10 mm (Height), 0.85 g (Weight)

  • Exhibition Collection Management

    38 mm (Length), 200 mm (Width), 955 mm (Height)

  • Dimensions

    860 mm (Length), 200 mm (Width), 45 mm (Height)
    Measurement From Conservation.

  • References

    [Book] Museum Victoria. 2004. Treasures of the Museum. Victoria, Australia.

  • Keywords

    Law and Order