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View the map of Australia outlining Basedow’s expedition trails

A young Aboriginal Arrernte boy with a toy shield and boomerang. - click to view larger image
Arrernte boy holding toy shield
A bark shield. - click to view larger image
Toy shield

Aboriginal boys practised their hunting and fighting skills using toy weapons. Usually these were less well-made than adult counterparts. In this case the toy is made from bark with a handle of sticks rather than one piece of wood. Basedow gives a detailed description of how this object was made in his book The Australian Aboriginal (1925, pp 86–87):

As a means of self-defence and protection against such throwing-sticks and the small toy-spears previously mentioned, the Arunndta construct for their boys light bark shields. A piece of green bark is cut out of the butt of a eucalyptus, oblong-oval in shape and about two feet long and six inches wide [610 x 152 mm]. Two holes are cut in the central line of this piece, about six inches [152 mm] from either end, and through them two or three fairly stout, green twigs are stuck, from the under, concave surface, to form a handle. The points of these twigs stick out from the top surface, some two inches [51 mm], but they are left to prevent the ends of the handle from slipping out. The bark is then bent in the required shield-shape and dried over a slow fire or in hot ashes.

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