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National Museum of Australia

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Engraved boab nut 'Fighting over Women' by Jack Wherra

2003.0057.0018

Engraved boab nut 'Fighting over Women' 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; the drunken party, f.2; getting work orders for the day, f.3; rivals set up fence posts, f.4; felled with a post-hole shovel. Bottom row; f.1; the old man and his young wife, f.2; the young stockmen argue over the old man's wife, f.3; bridling up the colt, f.4; the rivals start fighting at the strainer post. 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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