Current Pitt Rivers Museum information about the shields displayed in Bethnal Green Museum

Australian Heileman or Shield

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Parrying sticks and shields, Africa

Parrying shields of double antelopes' horns, India

Long narrow shields from the Asiatic Isles

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Find out more about Australian shields

1874 catalogue entry:
56 to 58. SHIELDS of the form called Mulabakka, showing a further increase in breadth, with projecting ends for parrying.
Compare these ends with the stick of the Caffir shield, No. 65, used for the same purpose. These Australian shields are, in some places, called Wadna, and some idea of the slight value which aboriginal names afford as conveying a correct idea of the thing named may be formed from the circumstance that on seeing for the first time an English boat, they called it Wadna, from its resemblance to their shields. In Victoria this kind of shield goes by the name of Turnmung, the great divergence in the names as contrasted with the resemblance in form, will be noticed.

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Pitt Rivers Museum record:
 General Description: Australian shield, made of wood, painted and incised.
Accession number: 1884.30.14
Continent: Australia Country: Australia Region: South Australia, Lower Murray River
Dimensions: L = 940 mm W = 235 mm
Documentation: Illustrated in black and white as Fig. 80 on page 58 of Australia in Oxford eds. H Morphy, E Edwards (Oxford: PRM Monograph 4 1988)
When collected: ?Prior to 1874
Other owners: Pitt Rivers sent this object to Bethnal Green Museum for display by ?early 1874.
Black book entry - Screen 2 13 - 15 Shields, Mulabakka, greater width (56 - 58).
Delivery Catalogue II entry - Shields from different localities. Wood shield, mulabakka. Australia 56
Accession Book IV entry - Mulabakka, shield of similar form [to 1884.30.11], with projecting parrying sticks carved out at the ends, painted red and white with transverse grooved wavy lines. N Australia [Drawing]
Card Catalogue entry - 1884.30.14. ALF 56. N Australia. 56 = 13 black. Wooden shield, mulabakka, of long elliptical form, with projecting parrying-sticks carved out of the ends, painted red and white with transverse grooved wavy lines.
Written on object - Heileman W Australia PR 55
Printed label stuck on object - Broad shield Australia called Mulabakka
Written on object - Mulabakka N Australia PR 56
Other information - Originally attributed to N. Australia. Identified as ?Victoria by Howard Morphy. Identified by its reproduction in Australia in Oxford (see Documentation) by John Stanton of the Berndt Museum of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia as definitely being from Lower Murray River, South Australia. Displayed in 'The First Australians' exhibition at PRM, 1988-89. Displayed in Bethnal Green and South Kensington Museums (V&A). Note that the handle is not carved out of the whole but is made from a flexible wood. Two holes were made in the surface of the shield and the flexible wood was poked through each hole to form a handle. The flexible wood is covered by wrappings of thin strips of textile, discoloured brown. The inside of the shield is undecorated, the front is decorated with red and white pigment and incised lines.
PR number: 56

Displayed in Upper Gallery Shield displays at Pitt Rivers Museum.

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