A Rainforest Shield, North East Queensland, circa 19th Century

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Lot 4
A Rainforest Shield, North East Queensland, circa 19th Century

AU$ 40,000 - 60,000
US$ 27,000 - 41,000
A Rainforest Shield, North East Queensland, circa 19th Century
carved fig-wood (Ficus alpipila) with natural earth pigments and natural binders
height: 90.0cm

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Collection of Lord McAlpine of West Green, United Kingdom
    Adam Prout, San Francisco, 1999
    Private collection, California
    Galerie Patrick and Ondine Mestdagh, Brussels
    Collection of Mr J.C.T., Brussels
    Private collection, Perth

    EXHIBITED
    Parcours des Mondes, Galerie Patrick and Ondine Mestdagh, Paris, St Germain-des-Pres, 9 - 14 September 2014

    RELATED WORK
    Carol Cooper, Aboriginal Australia, Australian Gallery Directors' Council, Sydney, 1981, pp.172-173

    'The distinctive kidney shape of the shields of the Kukuyandji and related groups in the rainforests around Cairns, in the north of the Cape York Peninsula, derives from the buttress roots of the native fig tree from which they are hewn. Such shields feature a boss in the centre to provide increased strength, and a raised handle on the reverse. They were usually decorated by two initiated men painting symmetrical clan designs from opposite ends of the shield. The bold designs in red and yellow ochres and white, outlined in black, appear abstract but in fact are conventional representations of totemic creatures and plants, such as spiders, crabs, species of fish and a variety of trees and shrubs. Human blood would be mixed with the ochres to impart the maker's spirit to the shield and to enhance its protective qualities.

    Of a size consistent with use in ceremonial battle, a shield of a smaller scale was also produced which was used in ceremonial dances. In battle, the shield would perform a defensive action, thwarting the bladelike sword club and absorbing the impact.'1

    1. Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights from the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010, p.33
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