Summary

Uncle Albert Mullett, was a highly respected Elder of the Gunai/Kurnai Nation and master craftsman, he shared his knowledge of the woods used by his peoples;
'Much of the wood in Gunai/Kurnai Country contains salt and moisture from the surrounding sea, rivers and estuaries, which aids in the curing process. Wood can also be softened by burying it the ground, with great care taken to ensure it is not placed in the sun after it is dug up or else it will crack. I mix ochre and fat; it preserves the wood and keeps the colour. Once you let your wood set, rub a bit of fat into it; the longer you leave the wood the deeper the colour gets.'
Albert Mullett 2012.

Physical Description

Broad carved and incised wooden shield. It is broadest at its centre and narrower towards its ends with disc shaped extensions at each end. The shield has a handle carved into its back. The decoration consists of 16 crosswise panels filled with various forms of linear pattern.

Local Name

Marraga

Significance

Gunai/Kurnai men used the marraga (shield) during combat to deflect spears and other weapons thrown from a distance. It is lighter than the parrying shield and a skilful warrior would adeptly use it to protect his body, making it impossible for the spear of his enemy to wound him.
The outer bark of an ironbark tree or other suitable species would be used to make marraga. To form the curved shape, a piece of green bark would be placed on hot ashes covering a mound of earth, with sods of grass and stones then piled on top. By the time the ashes were cool, the shield would have assumed the curve of the mound.
Today Gunai/Kurnai people continue the cultural traditions of their Ancestors which have been passed down over thousands of generations. Gunai artist Steaphan Paton speaks of the strong influence of his Elders and culture on his practice as an artist;

'I didn't have a formal art education, I had a different informal education. It was an Aboriginal way of learning, it was being around it first hand, listening properly to my uncles, my pop and grandmother.I've been exposed to that, and maintained that cultural tradition of storytelling through art." Steaphan Paton, 2015

Reference: http://www.mildred.co/issue-104/features/steaphan-paton/

In Honour of Uncle Albert Mullet 1933-2014, esteemed Elder and Yulendj member.

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