This distinctively shaped shield is made from the buttress roots of the large milkwood trees of the north Queensland rainforests. The excellent condition of the surface bears witness to perhaps not having been used in battle.

Local Name

Balan bigin

Physical Description

An asymetrical kidney-shaped shield made of single piece of softwood painted with natural pigments. The background of the outer surface is painted with yellow ochre and the abstract geometric pattern is outlined in black and painted with white and yellow. The handle is carved into the reverse side and at the same point on the outer surface is a raised rectangular section.


Little documentation accompanies this shield other than its association with Clement Lindley Wragge, who was appointed meteorological observer in the colony of Queensland in 1887. Wragge amassed a significant collection of Aboriginal artefacts from central and north Queensland during his two or three year appointment that began in January 1887 as the meteorological observer in the colony. He offered the collection to the major Australian state museums in the hope of keeping the entire collection together, however unable to secure a single buyer meant the collection was split between this museum and Queensland and the South Australian Museum. Like Walter E. Roth, Wragge attempted to represent the cultural diversity of Aboriginal people of north Queensland in his collection, which was very unusual for a private collector of that era. Many of the objects from Wragge, like this one, appear to be old examples.

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