Learn about Aboriginal Artefacts

Aboriginal art and artefact collecting goes back to early first contact times. In fact local Aboriginals around Sydney use to trade artefacts with visiting ships from the earliest days. Curio collecting has always been part of early exploration of the new world. Ceremonial adornment items that were made of perishable material were not preserved for future use and so early examples are very collectable. Early shields, clubs and boomerangs that were cherished as favourites and had developed a deep colour and patina are preferred. Historical items that were collected by early notable pioneers, explorers or anthropologists are of high interest to collectors. Some areas are collected because the artistic expression makes them more appealing when displayed. Production of artefacts has never ceased and are still made today for sale. Bark painting production started in mass in the 1950's and were sold via missionary shops. The earlier barks are more sought after. Now with many of the early artists and their roll in the maintenance of culture recognized, these barks are seen as important expressions of a past lifestyle.

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These items are not for sale and the descriptions, images and prices are for reference purposes only.

A Wunda shield, Western Australia. Length 71 cm

A shield, Queensland rainforest mission station origin, 20th century. 78 cm.

A shield with painted ochre decoration, most likely West Queensland, 20th century.

A bean wood shield, Central Australia, together with a finely carved and ochred coolamon bowl; the shield with faint painted designs (emu and foliage) Provenance: This shield was given as a thank you to Dr Bertram Welton in the 1940s when he worked with Ab

A finely carved and painted shield, Central Australia, the front with fine Central Australian designs in white ochre. 68 x 22.5 cm

A Wunda shield, Ashburton, Western Australia, 19th century; a fine and early Wunda shield with classical deep incised zig zag designs on the front, the back showing the great age of this shield with incised vertical striations bisected with horizontal stri

An Aboriginal shield, Western Australia, early 20th century; finely carved with zig zag striations on the front and concentric squares incised on the back of the shield, traces of red ochre. Provenance: Lord Alistair McAlpine (1942-2014); a British busines

A fine Lagrange Bay shield, Western Australia, 19th century; with fine deep incised vertical striations on the front, the reverse with fine interlocking abstract designs, traces of red ochre and ancient patina. Provenance: Lord Alistair McAlpine (1942-2014

A fine Queensland rainforest shield and sword club, early 20th century. Provenance: Robert White collection. Shield: 87.5 x 19 cm; club: 92 cm (2)

A fine old Wunda shield, West Australia, late 19th/early 20th century. Provenance: Lord Alistair McAlpine (1942-2014); a British businessman, politician and author who was an advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he was a lifetime collector in many

Aboriginal carved Australian Wanda shield, incised angular decoration

A rare form of shield, New South Wales origin, carved hardwood. 19th century. 55.5 cm

Shield, Central Australia (1960s), natural earth pigments on carved beanwood. 62.5 cm

Large shield, north West Western Australia, carved hardwood. 91 cm. Provenance: Ex-Holt collection

A shield, Queensland (mid-twentieth century), pigments on carved wood. 67 cm high

Early Aboriginal hardwood shield with geometric hand carved design

Early Aboriginal hardwood shield with geometric hand carved design

A selection of Aboriginal artefacts including softwood shield a coolomon a carved tomahawk and a carved pick head 53 cm - 25 cm

Aboriginal shield West Australian origin circa 1940s (62 cm); & a club central deserts origin (58 cm)

Important group aboriginal tribal artifacts collected by Thomas Phillip Gourlay at Mt Eba on Bon Bon Station South Australia located near the junction of Queensland & the Northern Territory. Early 20th century. Shields (3), boomerangs (8), snake, sword clu

An unusual Early Shield: North Queensland (early 20th century) natural earth pigments on carved hardwood. 82 cm long. Provenance: Private Collection, Cairns

A child's parrying shield, South East Australia (nineteenth century), natural earth pigments on carved hardwood, 43.2 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, Melbourne

A large parrying shield, South East Australia (nineteenth century), carved hardwood and resin, 94.5 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, United Kingdom. Private Collection, Melbourne

A small rainforest shield, North Queensland (circa 1900), natural earth pigments on carved figwood, 53 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, Melbourne

A large wunda shield, Western Australia (early twentieth century), natural earth pigments on carved hardwood, 102 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, Melbourne

An early wunda shield and boomerang, Western Australia (nineteenth century), carved hardwood and natural earth pigments, 60.5 cm; 55.5 cm (2). Provenance: Private Collection, Victoria

A large parrying shield, South East Australia (nineteenth century), carved hardwood, red and white natural earth pigments, 92 cm high. For related examples see: Carol Cooper, Aboriginal Australia, Australian Gallery of Directors Council, New South Wales, 1

A shield, Upper Darling River, New South Wales, (nineteenth century), carved hardwood, 74 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, United Kingdom. Private Collection, Melbourne

Artist Unknown, Untitled (Central Australian shield) (1970), carved beanwood and natural earth pigments, 66.5 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, South Australia

An fine early wunda shield, Western Australia (circa 1900), natural earth pigments on carved hardwood, 77.4 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, Victoria

A rainforest shield, Mareeba, North Queensland (circa 1900), natural earth pigments on carved figwood, 97 cm high. This shield is historically significant; it was collected by John Atherton (1837-1913), the grazier and overlander after whom the tablelands

A large sword club, Far North Queensland (nineteenth century), carved hardwood and resin, 151.6 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, Sydney. The commanding presence of this sword club belies its traditional use. It is one of the widest and largest blad

A Gulmari shield, South West Queensland (nineteenth century), carved wood and natural pigments, 45.1 cm high. Provenance: Private Collection, United States of America. Exhibited: The Past and Present Art of the Australian Aborigine, Pacific Asia Museum, Lo

An exceptional and dynamically carved narrow shield, Darling River Region, New South Wales (nineteenth century), carved hardwood and natural earth pigments, 68 cm high. This exceptional stone-carved example still retains strong remnants of its original red

An early and exceptional narrow parrying shield, Darling River Region, New South Wales (early-mid nineteenth century), carved hardwood and natural pigments, 84.8 cm high. A fine, early stone-carved parrying shield of diamond shaped cross-section and elonga

An early parrying shield, South East Australia (early nineteenth century), carved hardwood and natural pigments, 89.2 cm high. This fine and early example shows evidence of stone tooling and the intricate designs incised into the face of the shield have be

A dynamic parrying shield, South East Australia (late nineteenth century), carved hardwood and natural pigments, 72.7 cm high. Provenance: Mrs Edgell Hunt, New Zealand (1898). The Pitt-Rivers Collection, United Kingdom. Primitive Works of Art, Sotheby's, L

An early shield, South East Australia (mid-late nineteenth century), carved wood and natural earth pigments, 77 cm high. This is an intricately carved and well balanced shield which shows signs of traditional tooled incisions, such as a possum tooth jaw. P

An old Australian aboriginal shield, of flat elliptical form, decorated to the front with incised grooved and spiral patterns, an integral loop handle fashioned to the back and with further grooved patterning. Deep reddish brown patina. Height 74 cm

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