An Australian Aboriginal Hardwood Narrow Wedge Shaped Parrying Shield
The lattice decoration with traces of white pipe clay
Darling River region, New South Wales
Size: 82.5cm long, 10.5cm wide – 32¾ ins long, 4¼ ins wide
Like most great art the best and most significant Aboriginal art is a manifestation of spiritual beliefs, but unlike the Christian or Islamic religions the Aborigines have no evangelistic zeal. The Aborigines do not want converts; in fact they discourage interest in their religious practices. Although visually beautiful to western eyes these objects with their linear patterns also have a link to the Aboriginal concept of the unity of life. To penetrate the true meaning of these objects it is necessary to develop an emotional link with Aboriginal culture, which is difficult for Westerners. Art, language, life and death, food, religion and every other important element of existence merge into one unifying life force. None are extracted as individual concepts and nature is not categorised into levels of importance. To the Aboriginal, the world of legends is as real as observed phenomena. Thus beyond the visual appeal of the shield and its practical use in parrying the blows of clubs lies another profound world of Aboriginal meaning.