Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer

4

Engraved boab nut 'Ceremonies, Sorcery, Revenge, Cooking a Kangaroo and Hunting a Crocodile' by Jack Wherra

2003.0057.0007

Engraved boab nut 'Ceremonies, Sorcery, Revenge, Cooking a Kangaroo and Hunting a Crocodile' by Jack Wherra

Object information

Physical description

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; South Kimberley men sing mantiwa using boomerangs as clapsticks, f.2; a man spears another, f.3; possum in a tree with emus underneath, f.4; two men hunting for crocodile. Bottom row; f.1; a dingo stalks a blue-tongued lizard, f.2; two brolgas look around, f.3; man uses fire-sticks to cook the kangaroo (euro or wallaroo) beside him, f.4; two wild horses appear. "WHERRA JACK" is 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

Back to top