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Wunda Shield, West Australia, 19th Century


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Collection No. A-1800
Size (72x17.5cm)
Wunda Shield, West Australia, 19th Century
Wunda Shield, West Australia, 19th Century

This finely carved and early Wunda shield is beautifully carved in an oval form from a single piece of hardwood, it is slightly convex on the front  and beautifully carved with incised bold zig zag patterns consisting of a series of longitudinal grooves accented with red and white ochre. The back of the shield is also incised with fine vertical striations over the entire surface and lug handle.

Although widely distributed in Western Australia, the shield of this type appear to have been produced mainly by peoples living in the area between the Gascoyne and Murchison rivers and traded to other groups along 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 reenacting specific episodes from the Dreaming (primordial creation period), in which ancestral beings were said to have been armed with shields.

References:

Further information on the designs of Wunda Shield can be found on this article:

The Symbolism of the North-Western Australian Zigzag Design

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

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