Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer


Bird without legs

Object information

Physical description

A wooden carved figure of a bird without legs, tapering at the tail. The upper and underside of the body is decorated with burnt incisings of human forms. There are burnt incisings of red circles across one wing and the beak and eyes are also red.

Statement of significance

The Florence Gaby collection comprises thirty-four objects from Australia and Melanesia. It includes weapons from south eastern and central Australia, and basket-ware, sculptures, weapons and sacred objects from Goulburn Island. Two sculptures are possibly from south eastern or southern central Australia. The Melanesian collection comprises lime gourds, body ornaments, a bone dagger and scraper and the dried skin of a puffer fish. Nurse Florence Gaby's was appointed to Fiji in May 1939 and she was on the staff of the Ba Hospital for Indian women and children when she retired in June 1945. Her life and work within the Methodist Overseas Missions included service on Goulburn Island in the 1940s.

The strength of the collection lies in its connection to Australian Missionary Societies and the nature and diversity of their work with Indigenous people. The National Museum has strong collections, mostly early twentieth century, representing Missionaries and Australian Government officials living and working with Indigenous people in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Western Polynesian. The Florence Gaby Melanesian material will complement these collections as little has been added in the past few decades.

Object information

Back to top