Central Australian shields were made from a light soft wood mostly oval shaped and used to deflect spears or blows from boomerangs in conflict situations. Added strength was given by the handles being part of the structure and cut out of the reverse side. The grooves or fluting is typical of the treatment of the outer surface of shields in the central desert regions, and are classically painted with designs representing the totemic ancestors. The shields are also used in revealing these details of the ancestors to young men in ceremony and displayed during the public stages of their initiation.

Physical Description

An oval shield made from a single piece of softwood (red bean tree) painted with natural pigments. The entire surface has longitudinal fluting of parallel lines and is coated with red ochre. The concave outer surface is decorated with dots in white pipe clay except for a section that forms a snake-like motif running the lengthe of the shield as well as a set of large circular shapes, all of which are overpainted with black pigment. The handle is cut out of the reverse side.

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