A rare Sydney shield
Broad shields and parrying shields are the two types of shields made by Aboriginal people of south-eastern Australia.
The term ‘broad’ refers to the flat face of the shield. They are sometimes called ‘spear’ shields as they are understood to have been used to deflect spears. South-east broad shields are created using two techniques: worked from the inner bark of a tree or carved from a solid piece of wood. The former involves cutting the bark off a tree, paring it down and shaping it, then adding a cane handle; the latter is made with a single piece of wood that has the handle cut into it.
Shields used in performance would often be painted with natural pigments, remnants of which can still be seen on many today, such as the elegant vertical and horizontal red lines, painted over white ochre on this work. The majority of broad shields were collected in the 1800s and early 1900s, and mostly without the artist’s name being recorded.
natural pigments on wood, cane handle
82.5 x 31.0 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Purchase 2018
Not on display