Shield, Lagrange Bay, West Australia, Late 19th Century.
This finely carved old shield is unique because normally La Grange Bay shields have the incised interlocking key designs only on the back of the shield and the front is either undecorated or has vertical striations but this fine example has incised interlocking key designs on both sides. This is the only shield I have seen that has the same designs on both sides.
These designs are unique in Australia to Karadjeri People of the La Grange Bay Area of the Northeast Coast of Western Australia. This design is also found on the famous pearl shell ornaments call “Longka Longka” from this area.
One of the most interesting motifs in aboriginal Australian decorative art is the interlocking key design, a design prominent at one time or another in many parts of the world, including ancient Greece, China and Peru.
This design is also sometimes found on Spear Throwers but it is on the back of the Karadjeri shields where the design is executed in the most elegant manner,
Interlocking Key Design in Aboriginal Australian Decorative Art. Dr. D. S. Davidson. First published: September 1949
Collection of the late Lord Sir Alistair McAlpine (1942-2014).
McAlpine was a British businessman, politician and author who was an adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he was a lifetime collector in many fields including Aboriginal Art. He was an early collector of the American painter Mark Rothko & could easily see the sophisticated aesthetics of Aboriginal Art & Artefacts.
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