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


An Early Narrow Shield, early-mid nineteenth century

circa 1800-1850




  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    New South Wales Australia
    Cultural origin
    Southeast region
    circa 1800-1850
    Media categories
    Woodwork , Painting , Sculpture
    Materials used
    carved hardwood
    64.5 cm height
    Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation 2018
    Naala Badu, ground level, Yiribana Gallery
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Spectacularly carved with radiating fields of diamonds, this exceptional parrying shield is from the south-east region of New South Wales. Parrying shields are solid and narrow to parry, or ward off, blows from clubs, and are made from a single piece of wood that has the handle cut into it. These shields often have three or four sides with incised front-facing designs.

    The skill and time involved in creating shields indicates their cultural importance. Engraved with myriad lines, south-eastern shields best exemplify the region’s artistic cultural practice. These shields are often cloaked in an array of diamonds, zigzags, squares, bands, circles, criss-crosses and the occasional figure. These iconic designs empower the shield bearer by representing country and identifying both regional and clan affiliations. As seen in the imagery of both William Barak and Tommy McRae, broad and parrying shields played a central role in south-east ceremonies. Shields used in performance would often be painted with natural pigments, remnants of which can still be seen on many today.

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    New South Wales

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

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