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National Museum of Australia

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Collection Explorer


Nugget, Billee-ling-oo, Queen of Boulia, 1930


On display

Nugget, Billee-ling-oo, Queen of Boulia, 1930

Object information


Boulia is located in western QLD, near the NT/SA border.

Physical description

A crescentic slightly convex brass breastplate with chain, engraved 'NUGGET / "BILLEE-LING-OO" / QUEEN OF BOULIA / 1930' with a kangaroo on the left and an emu on the right. Attached paper label reads "Richard, To our knowledge these are the largest known breastplates and also the youngest dated plates. They are also interesting being king & queen plates".

Statement of significance

This collection is comprised of seventeen Australian Indigenous breastplates (also known as king plates or gorgets). They come from a collection accumulated by L. Richard Smith, a noted collector of medals and porcelain. The breastplates are associated with Indigenous people from Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. The breastplates are all metal, of varying size, and are generally crescent shaped. Each is inscribed with the recipient's name, and many include an associated region and an honorary title such as 'king', 'queen' or 'chief'.

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, government authorities and settlers gave breastplates to Indigenous people for a variety of reasons. They were used as a way of selecting and identifying local elders to act as intermediaries between settlers and local Indigenous people. They were also given out in recognition of service and/or assistance (for example to Aboriginal stockmen or for saving people from ship wrecks). As such, they are significant cross-cultural objects that document early interaction between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in different regions of Australia. They often record the names of Indigenous people, and the station or region with which they are associated; people who are not otherwise represented in historical records. The collection is also significant in expanding the geographical scope of the National Museum's existing breastplate collection.

Physical description

On display at the National Museum of Australia.

Object information

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