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Shield painted with red and white pigment, by Paul Kropinyeri, 1991


Shield painted with red and white pigment, by Paul Kropinyeri, 1991

Object information

Physical description

River red gum bark shield, pipette shaped, concave with a curved stick handle protruding from the anterior to the posterior which is pigmented red while the anterior has been pigmented white with an opposed band arc.

Statement of significance

The Tandanya collection no 2 consists of a river red gum bark shield. The red-pigmented, concave, oval shield, is decorated with a white-pigmented band arc on its anterior surface, and has a curved stick handle, also pigmented red, on its posterior surface.

Bark shields were used in pre-European contact time as defensive weapons in spear fights and are a powerful symbol of Ngarrindjeri culture. Shields were made from hardwood, or from the outer bark of the river red gum, and were often finely incised with geometric designs. The shield in this collection was made in 1991 by Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal artist, Paul Kropinyeri, who revived the art of making bark shield in the early 1980s. His first shield was a recreation of a traditional Ngarrindjeri bark shield, made by Clarence Long of Raukkan in the 1930s, and held in the South Australian Museum. Born in a fringe camp on the Murray River, Paul was taken from his mother, Flora, and placed in a home. As a young man he joined the Army, worked on the railroads, and spent time travelling throughout Western Australia, working on stations, in forestry and with the Water Board. In 1977, he was employed by the Education authorities in Adelaide and was appointed as South Australia's first Aboriginal Education Worker. Paul's extensive knowledge of Ngarrindjeri culture came from, among others, his mother Flora Kropinyeri, Albert Karloan (one of the last initiated men of the Murray River), his grandfather, Dick Kropinyeri, and uncles, Sox Hunter and Mick Lindsay.

Object information

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