Australian Shields (3)

Australian shields on display in the Court of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

General descriptions of Australian shields


'The Moon' (a story)

Some Australian shields at the Musée Barbier-Mueller

First of a series of some of the Australian shields in the Pitt Rivers collection

Extract from Cameron Stone, Glossary


TAMARANG. Australian shield made for club fighting. They are of two entirely different types. The first is a flat piece of hard wood widest in the middle and tapering towards the end. The hand hole is in the middle of one edge. The shield is made deep to withstand the shock of the blow, and narrow so as not to obstruct the view. The second type is a heavy block of wood thick in the middle and tapering to ends and edges. The hand hole is cut in the middle of the back.

'The Moon'

Arrernte, Central Australia

During the Alcheringa [Dreamtime] a man of the opossum totem carried the moon around in his shield. When he went hunting he hid the moon in a cleft in the rocks. One night another man (this time of the seed totem, Unchirka) came past and saw a light shining on the ground. It was the moon lying in the man's shield. The Unchirka man picked up the moon and the shield and ran away as quickly as possible. The opossum man realized what had happened and chased him but could not catch him. He was very angry and shouted that the thief could not keep the moon which would go up into the sky and give light to everyone at night-time. Then the moon went up into the sky where it has remained to this day.

(Retold from Spencer & Gillen's The Native Tribes of Central Australia')

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