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National Museum of Australia

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4

Axe with a hand carved wooden handle

1994.0068.0017

Axe with a hand carved wooden handle

Object information

Physical description

An axe with a hand carved wooden handle. The metal axe head is fairly worn, with rust on the surface. The handle is new. Chiselled carving marks can be seen on the surface of the handle.

Statement of significance

The Groote Eylandt collection contains 25 objects made by indigenous women. The collection contains two string bags, a paperbark carry basket, a carved bird, three cooking sticks, four digging sticks, a fighting stick, three axes, three samples of fibres used to make the string bags and four packets of shavings from the axe handle and sticks.

Groote Eylandt, situated in the Gulf of Carpenteria, holds a small population of approximately 2400 people. The traditional landowners, the Anindilyakwa, experienced sporadic contact from the 1600s to 1907 with Macassan fisherman seeking trepang. From 1921, the first sustained period of contact with Europeans was through the Church Missionary Society which encouraged relocation onto the missions. Throughout this period, the Anindilyakwa continued to supplement their diet with traditional bush food. The island today is characterized by the Groote Eylandt Mining Company, which has been mining manganese for 42 years on the island. The mine has brought a large number of non-indigenous workers and their families to the island. The Anindilyakwa play a lead role in managing the island.

Object information

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