Unknown ARTIST, Shield [Rainforest] Enlarge 1 /1

Unknown ARTIST

Rainforest people

Australia Unknown – Unknown

Shield [Rainforest] 19th - 20th Century Place made: Rainforest Region, Queensland, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, woodwork, natural earth pigments on fig- tree wood

Dimensions: 97.5 h x 34.0 w x 6.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.600

The distinctive kidney shape of the shields of the Kukuyandji and related groups in the rainforests around Cairns, in the north of the Cape York Peninsula, derives from the buttress roots of the native fig tree from which they are hewn. Such shields feature a boss in the centre to provide increased strength, and a raised handle on the reverse. They were usually decorated by two initiated men painting symmetrical clan designs from opposite ends of the shield. The bold designs in red and yellow ochres and white, outlined in black, appear abstract but in fact are conventional representations of totemic creatures and plants, such as spiders, crabs, species of fish and a variety of trees and shrubs. Human blood would be mixed with the ochres to impart the maker’s spirit to the shield and to enhance its protective qualities. In the 1930s the anthropologist Ursula McConnel recorded the interpretations of a number of shield designs, and these patterns proved to be an influence on the work of the renowned Australian artist Margaret Preston.

The shields were used in ceremonial battles and in warfare. This particular example shows signs of much use—it bears indentations made by sword clubs and spears. Shields would also be given to young men during initiation ceremonies.

Wally Caruana


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010

Highly distinctive shields such as this one were created by Aboriginal men in the rainforest clans of Far North Queensland for use in real battles and in ceremonial fights. They were shaped from the buttress roots of native figtrees in the rainforest, and then two initiated men would decorate the shield, painting from opposite ends. They painted the designs of the individual warrior, the owner’s kinship group or the clan using natural earth pigments, particularly red-brown, black and white. A shield maker added his blood to the pigment to impart his spirit and give the shield more power to protect the owner. The shield was then presented to a young man at his initiation ceremony.

This example is both visually stunning and historically significance due to its use in battle. Of elongated kidney shape, it has a central raised lug, is decorated with geometric totemic designs in red-brown, white and yellow, with black outlines, and shows battle scars from clubs and spears. Its back is roughly hewn with a raised, pierced handle.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

The distinctive kidney shape of the shields of the Yidinyji, Kukuyandji and related groups in the rainforests around Cairns, in the north of the Cape York Peninsula, derives from the buttress roots of the native fig tree from which they are hewn. Such shields feature a boss in the centre to provide increased strength, and a raised handle on the reverse. Two initiated men would typically decorate them by painting symmetrical clan designs from opposite ends of the shield.

The seemingly abstract ochred designs outlined in black are in fact conventional representations of totemic creatures and plants, such as spiders, crabs, species of fish and a variety of trees and shrubs. Human blood was mixed with the ochres to impart the maker’s spirit to the shield and to enhance its protective qualities. The shields were used in ceremonial battles and in warfare. This example shows signs of much use—it bears indentations made by sword clubs and spears. Shields would also be given to young men during initiation ceremonies.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014

艺术家:未知
《加闻盾牌》(Jawun Shield)
19-20世纪
无花果树木,天然色料
97.50(高) x 34.00(宽) x 6.00(深)厘米
2005年购买
2005.600

约克角半岛北部、凯恩斯(Cairns)周围雨林地区库库延吉(Kukuyandji)人及相关部落人的盾牌呈独特肾形,用从当地无花果树上砍下的板状根制作而成。盾牌中心部位隆起以增大强度,背面有一个隆起把手。通常情况下,盾牌的装饰由两个人完成,分别从两端绘制对称的部落图案。用黑色勾勒的红黄天然色料和白色图案粗犷,显得抽象,但实际上是图腾动植物的传统表征,如蜘蛛、螃蟹、鱼类和各种各样的乔灌木。天然色料中混入人血,以赋予盾牌制作者的灵魂并增强其保护性。1930年代,人类学家厄休拉·麦康奈尔(Ursula McConnel)记载了大量盾牌图案的解释,结果证明,这些图案影响了著名澳大利亚艺术家玛格丽特·普勒斯顿(Margaret Preston)的作品。

这种盾牌用于仪式战斗表演和战争。迹象表明本盾牌经过大量使用——其上有刀剑和矛留下的缺口;盾牌要在成人礼仪式上交与年轻人。

Wally Caruana
瓦里·卡鲁阿那


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra