Large Wunda Shield (AS011)

Description of item:










































Beautiful, large, wide, old type; excellent hard wood shield from the late 1890’s/early 1900’s with excellent aged patina.


Height: 71 cm (28 inches)

Width: 18 cm (7 inches)


Early rare example of the concave face handle design from the region between the Gascoyne and Murchison Rivers in Western Australia. Widely associated with men’s cults, rituals and ceremonies, this shield is held in high regard as a traditional trade item. It was deemed to be the most widely distributed Aboriginal shield in Australia. As defensive weapons, wunda shields were carried in battle to protect against spears, boomerangs and clubs. They were also status symbols carried by the older men and they were used in ceremonial rituals. The name of the shield originated from the word wurnda in the Paljgu language after a commonly used wood. The wunda shield is typically identified by fluted channels running parallel with each other in three distinctive panels. The formal layout of the designs on wunda shields occurs in two basic patterns. This shield falls in the first, known as pandal, where the lines in the upper and lower registers of the shield are grooved vertically, and the shield carries diagonal or horizontal panels in the central panel. (The second type of design is called pangkurda, in which the lines in the upper and lower registers run obliquely and those in the central section are horizontal). The channels can vary in thickness and precision.


Akerman, K. ‘Shields in the Barbier-Mueller Museum’ online catalogue.


Private Australian collection.



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