Summary

This shield is typical of the type made and used by Aboriginal people of the rainforest region of northeast Queensland. It is made from a single section taken from the buttress root of anative fig giving it the distinctive kidney-shape. The colours and complex abstract patterns are associated with marine life, animals, birds, insects, leaf patterns or astronomical observations. Each of the four language groups of the rainforest region had their own specific design elements and those made around Tully generally had stripes while diamond patterns were a dominant motif of the Cardwell region.Usually two men painted these shields working from either end and, depending on the detail required, pigments were applied with a brush made from a stick frayed at the end from strands of human hair or it was applied with the fingers. Pigments were ground into a powder with a pestle-type stone and mixed with a binding fluid.

Physical Description

An assymetrical kidney-shaped shield made of a single piece of softwood painted with natural pigments. The outer surface is painted with red ochre and decorated with abstract geometric patterning outlined in black and infilled with white, yellow and red. The handle is carved into the reverse side and at the same point on the outer surface is a raised rectangular section.

Local Name

matyay

Significance

Names for these shields were rarely recorded however the museum's register notes the words "beggan" and "gasken" for this example.

More Information