We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


A Sydney shield




  • Details

    Other Title
    A rare Sydney shield
    Alternative title
    A rare Sydney shield
    Place where the work was made
    Sydney New South Wales Australia
    Cultural origin
    South-east region
    Media category
    Materials used
    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
    South Building, ground level, Grand Courts
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


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