Aboriginal shield

oceania | Australia

Aboriginal shield

Australia

Carved wood and pigments
19th century
Height: 38 in. (97 cm)

This type of shield was used for warfare as parrying shields against spears or boomerangs blows.
These shields were also actively traded throughout Western and Central Australia. Lastly, they also played in role in intiations and rituals. The motifs on the surface of the shield were totemic symbols related to the « songlines ».

In his 1987 book The Songlines, British novelist and travel writer, Bruce Chatwin describes the songlines as:
"...the labyrinth of invisible pathways which meander all over Australia and are known to Europeans as 'Dreaming-tracks' or 'Songlines'; to the Aboriginals as the 'Footprints of the Ancestors' or the 'Way of the Law’. Aboriginal Creation myths tell of the legendary totemic being who wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path - birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes - and so singing the world into existence.''
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