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National Museum of Australia

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Parrying shield made by Willie Dawson, 2014


Parrying shield made by Willie Dawson, 2014

Object information


The parrying shield was created by Willie Dawson as a replica of a shield given to him by his grandfather. Willie made the shield to represent his grandfathers in the hope it may eventually be in the National Museum collection representing Dieri culture.

Physical description

An elongated whitewood (Atalaya hemiglauca) parrying shield with a handle carved out of the back. The front is incised with a design comprised of dots, lines, and concentric circles. In the centre of the shield is a band filled with a series of 'U' shapes and on either side of this is a group of concentric circles connected to four wavy lines, followed by another band filled with 'U' shapes. Right at the outer edge of both ends of the shield is a series of lines which flair out towards one end. The spaces between the lines are covered with dots.

Statement of significance

This parrying shield was created by Dieri craftsman William (Willie) Dawson. It is a replica of a shield given to him by an Aboriginal elder. It is made from a single piece of whitewood (Atalaya hemiglauca), with carved designs on the anterior surface. The handle on the posterior is carved out of the wood.

The traditional home of the Dieri people is the Lake Eyre region in South Australia. Today, many Dieri have moved to metropolitan areas such as Adelaide and Port Augusta, although some continue to live on or visit traditional country. The design on Dawson's shield reflects the important links between Dieri people and their country. In particular the importance of water sources in an arid environment. The story associated with the design puts great importance on waterholes and how people had to navigate between them across barren country.

Object information

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