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Preparing for an emu hunt, 1905 or 1911

Description

This is a photograph by Herbert Basedow of a group of a group of 19 men and boys standing on open ground with spears and spearthrowers poised as if testing them. All of the figures wear a form of loin covering. One is in trousers. Another figure is seated in the bottom-right corner of the frame, observing the scene, and several more are sitting behind the standing group. In the background is a grove of trees and to the left is a large hill. Another group of people is just visible, seated, under the trees.

Educational value

This photograph shows Wogait men and boys, of Anson Bay in the Northern Territory, most likely preparing for a hunt. In inland areas such as this one, their prey would include kangaroos, wallabies, emus, bustards and other large game. However, if they came across smaller animals like lizards they would likely try to catch them as well.

Children learned the skills they would need as adults through games and by joining in with adult activities such as hunting.

Herbert Basedow was a doctor, anthropologist and explorer. From 1903 to 1928 he ventured to remote regions of central and northern Australia - places rarely seen by Australians even today. Aboriginal people often feature in his photographs. Basedow wanted to document Aboriginal cultures as they had been before British colonisation, and often went to some lengths to craft his photographs to appear as such.

This photograph was probably taken during the 1905 geological exploration of north-west Northern Territory, but could have been taken as late as 1911.

© Education Services Australia Limited and the National Museum of Australia 2010

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