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National Museum of Australia

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Corroboree folding game board designed by Jessie Mackintosh, 1945


Corroboree folding game board designed by Jessie Mackintosh, 1945

Object information

Physical description

A folding cardboard and paper game board, printed with illustrations of Aboriginal people and titled 'CORROBOREE'. The illustrations on the interior surface feature domestic and cultural activities of Aboriginal people, and also Australian native animals. The game title 'CORROBOREE' is featured at the centre of the board inside an illustration of a boomerang. The game board folds vertically in half, and the outer covering is coloured green featuring a single image on the front cover of an Australian aboriginal man dancing.

Statement of significance

This collection consists of a 'Corroboree' folding game board and a booklet of rules and notes explaining the activities of the Indigenous themes illustrated on the board. The game was created and designed by Jessie Macqueen Mackintosh in 1945. The condition of the playing board is good with no loss, wear or damage. The title of the game on the outside of the board has some insect damage. The booklet is fully intact with some creasing, peripheral tears and light marks.

'Corroboree' is a dice-based game in which the winner is the first player to arrive at a central corroboree. The game reflects the growing awareness of Indigenous culture by non-Indigenous society in the mid-twentieth century. It is an example of the mainstream, commercial appropriation of indigenous motifs and cultural iconography by non-Indigenous artists and designers of the 1930s that peaked in the 1950s. The booklet accompanying the game cites Sir W Baldwin Spencer and Frank J Gillen's published anthropological work, undertaken in central and northern Australia, as the references used in the compilation of the game. The game is therefore significant as a tangible demonstration of how Spencer and Gillen's work was influential beyond the academic world, influencing popular representations and understandings of Indigenous culture. It is also an example of the mechanism by which representations of central Australian Aboriginal culture came to define 'Aboriginality' for many non-Indigenous Australians during the mid-twentieth century.

Object information



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