A Northern Arnhem Land Australian Aboriginal Bull Roarer

A Northern Arnhem Land Australian Aboriginal Bull Roarer

1800 to 1900 Australia

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A Northern Arnhem Land Australian Aboriginal Bull Roarer , the wood incised and painted with ochre and white clay pigments , old collection number ; H 730
19 th Century

Size : 48 cm long , 3 cm wide – 19 ins long , 1¼ ins wide
With old label reading : Bullroarer – By swinging around the head a ….. sounds are ….. denotes the
presence of a powerful spirit P 13 .
With old label reading : Bullroarer - By swinging around the head a ….. sounds are ….. denotes the
presence of a powerful spirit P 13 .
Intense ritual and religious life was of overwhelming importance to the semi-nomadic Aborigines . The bases for their beliefs was the totem which could be a natural object , plant or animal which was sacred to all the members of the division of the tribe . 'Increase' ceremonies were conducted in which the spirits were invoked to increase the totem species of the group performing the ceremony . Elders knowledgeable in tribal customs and history presided over the proceedings for which sacred objects were brought out from sacred storage . The bull roarer was used both during ceremonies and to summon the participants . It was whirled round the head on a hair string and gave out a characteristic rhythmic , deep vibrating sound which the uninitiated believed to be the voice of the spirits warning them to keep away from the sacred ceremony .
Those playing a major part in the ceremony decorated their bodies with ochre , birds down and blood and consulted engraved sacred wood or stone tablets , such as this example . These were often similar in form to bull roarers and served as a kind of 'Mnemonic' record of totemic myths . 'Churinga' is an 'Aranda' , central Australian Aboriginal word , and is used to describe these sacred boards and stones which were held in great reverence , and kept safe by the elders of the tribe for future generations .
Dimensions
Height 48.00 cm (18.90 inches)
Width 3.00 cm (1.18 inches)
Medium
wood
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