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A Superb Aboriginal WundaShield Western Australia 19th Century


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Collection No. TB-919
Size Height 78cm x 18cm Wide
A Superb Aboriginal WundaShield Western Australia 19th Century
A Superb Aboriginal WundaShield Western Australia 19th Century
A Superb Aboriginal WundaShield Western Australia 19th Century
A Superb Aboriginal WundaShield Western Australia 19th Century
A Superb Aboriginal WundaShield Western Australia 19th Century
A Superb Aboriginal WundaShield Western Australia 19th Century
A Superb Aboriginal WundaShield Western Australia 19th Century

This superb large Aboriginal Wunda Shield from Western Australia and dating from the late 19th Century.

This Wunda shield is beautifully carved in an oval form from thin hardwood, slightly convex on the front and slightly concave with a lug handle on the back. Finely incised bold zig-zag patterns consisting of a series of longitudinal grooves accented with red and white ochre, the back of this shield is also finely incised with vertical & horizontal striations. It is hard to pick which side of the shield is most beautiful as both sides are superb.

Wunda Shields are one of the finest of all Aboriginal Shields made in by the indigenous people of Australia. Wunda shields were once used across a large portion of the vast state of Western Australia.  Most of the Wunda Shields have the zig-zag designs on the front and the reverse can either have either other types of abstract designs or vertical striations over the entire back surface.

Although widely distributed in the region, the shields appear to have been produced mainly by peoples living in the area between the Gascoyne and Murchison rivers, which drain into Australia’s western coast and traded to other groups along with a vast network of inland exchange routes.

Like many forms of Aboriginal shields, Wunda were used in fighting for protection against projectile weapons, such as spears and boomerangs. They were also carried by performers in ritual contexts, especially when ceremonies re-enacting specific episodes from the Dreaming (primordial creation period), in which ancestral beings were said to have been armed with shields.

Many of these old Wunda Shields were collected in the late 19th Century, they were old at the time it’s likely that these are from the early 19th Century due to their age when collected.

References:

The Symbolism of the North-Western Australian Zigzag Design by Author(s): C. G. von Brandenstein

Source: Oceania, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Mar., 1972), pp. 223-238  Published by: Wiley on behalf of Oceania Publications, University of Sydney

Provenance:
Ex Peter Hallinan Collection (1938-2015) Queensland Australia Peter was one of the great collectors of the 20th Century in Australia. Artworks from his collection are now in major museum collections around the world.

The Todd Barlin Collection of Aboriginal Art