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National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

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Engraved boab nut 'Bush Scenes, a Monster and Cooking a Kangaroo' by Jack Wherra

2003.0057.0006

Engraved boab nut 'Bush Scenes, a Monster and Cooking a Kangaroo' by Jack Wherra

Object information

Physical description

A tremolo engraved unpainted boab nut decorated with two rows of inscribed scenes in a series of frames, like a cartoon. Each caption below describes a frame, which are indicated as f.1, f.2, etc. Top row: f.1; A man looking at a snake emerging from hole in tree, f.2; a monstrous figure approaches a couple sleeping in the bush, f.3; two men confront each other with weapons, f.4; three people sitting in camp. Bottom row; f.1; man with spear poised facing emu and chick, f.2: a man with the spear poised to throw at the kangaroo, f.3; three kangaroos, f.4; an emu and chick. The words 'JACK WHERRA' are engraved around the top.

Statement of significance

This collection consist of a series of 21 incised boab nuts by the Kimberley artist Jack Wherra (or Wheera). They were executed between 1964 and 1966 and record contact history stories.

The nuts are a significant social record of cross-cultural interrelations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people from the perspective of a known Aboriginal person. The range of topics as described in the titles include: Whiteman's Justice, Spearing A Stockman, Police Intervene After A Fight Over A Woman, Capturing The Cattle Killers, Illicit Drinking And Violence, The Card Game That Ended Badly and the anthropologist Records Rock Art. Jack Wherra's own story as an tribal man who found himself at the mercy of both white and black law after a tribal incident provides additional insights into the complexities of contact history.

Object information

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