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National Museum of Australia

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King Mallee of the Nyungar Danoo Outstation 1881

2004.0079.0009

King Mallee of the Nyungar Danoo Outstation 1881

Object information

Description

Nyungar Danoo is an unknown location, but probably in WA

Physical description

A crescentric, slightly convex, brass breastplate, obverse engraved 'KING MALLEE / OF THE / NYUNGAR / DANOO OUTSTATION / 1881' within a scalloped cartouche, and includes an emu with eucalypt tree on the left, and a kangaroo with a pair of native grass trees on the right. A leaf pattern engraved around the perimeter features two holes to fit a neck chain. 'KN / RJ[?] / WA' is engraved on the reverse side.

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.

Object information

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