Lot 6
  • 6

A Rainforest Shield, North East Queensland, Australia Late 19th Century

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Carved fig-wood (Ficus alpipila), natural earth pigments, native binding fluids
  • 101.5cm by 42cm
Carved fig-wood (Ficus alpipila), natural earth pigments, native binding fluids


Dr and Mrs Jan Olof Ollers, Stockholm
Sotheby’s, London, 30 April 1973, Lot 73
Private collection, London, acquired at the above sale         

Catalogue Note

Cf. Howard Morphy and Elizabeth Edwards (Eds): Australia in Oxford, Pit Rivers Museum, Oxford, 1988, p.66, fig.84 for a similar kidney-shaped shield with undulating surface to both front and back.

A kidney-shaped shield of the type that is unique to the peoples of the rainforest region around Cairns, on the north east coast of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Fashioned from the buttress root of the native fig tree, these shields were painted by two men simultaneously executing a symmetrical design from opposite ends of the shield. The designs are usually abstractions of images of totemic natural species and phenomena, including medicinal plants and leaves, scorpions, fish and turtles. The shields feature a centrally located boss for strength. The ochre pigments painted on this shield have retained much of their original intensity: the detail of the markings within the yellow forms is an unusual feature for such shields.