Unknown MAKER, Shield [Blue Mountains] Enlarge 1 /1

Unknown MAKER

Dharug people


Shield [Blue Mountains] 1800-1833 Place made: Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, woodwork, natural earth pigments on wood

Dimensions: 57.0 h x 9.8 w x 9.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1989
Accession No: NGA 89.1904

This shield is one of the only objects from the Blue Mountains region, west of Sydney, in the national collection. It came with little accompanying information and was catalogued as ‘Gandangara people?’ However, on the reverse of the catalogue information are notes speculating the work to be ‘probably Dharug people’ with a much earlier possible date of ‘c. 1800–1833’. Gandangara country is in the northern Blue Mountains region, while Dharug Country is further south, to the east of Sydney on the Great Dividing Range.

 ‘The emphasis in the early collections from the south-east on shields, boomerangs, spears and spearthrowers reflects a general nineteenth-century European interest in weaponry. It also reflects the aesthetics of their forms … It is important to remember that we are not viewing the objects as they originally looked. In many cases the incised patterns were infilled with clays and ochres and the raised surface of the central motifs was painted in the same or contrasting colours … most examples that survive in museum collections have become pigmentless with age and handling.’ (Howard Morphy, Aboriginal Art, 1998, pp. 330–332)

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra