Summary

Graceful bow-shaped parrying shields with complex engraved designs were characteristic of the traditional artistic culture of Aboriginal men from New South Wales and Victoria. The engravings were done while the wood was still raw and green, as timber hardens over time and becomes difficult to work. The intended design was often marked out first in straight shallow lines and then deeply incised with sharp tools such as possum-tooth engravers.

Physical Description

Narrow elongated shaped shield made from wood, with handle carved into the back of the shield. Surface is lightly polished. The front of the shield is decorated with incised patterns which have been filled with ochre. The unpatterned areas are covered in a fine layer of red ochre.

Significance

This shield came into the Museum collection in 1940 from a donor who had been amassing a vast collection of Aboriginal material culture since the late 1880s. The only information recorded with this shield, with the unusual flat diamond shape on the front, was that it was presumed to come from New South Wales. The search to reveal the story carved into this distinctively shaped and decorated parrying shield continues.

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