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Explanation of terms

WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In this book some technical terms are used to describe the gorgets. The terms were borrowed from the language of 'blazon' which is commonly used to describe 'armorial bearings' or coats of arms. It is necessary to use this special language to describe the gorgets because they are basically copies of military gorgets which were traditionally decorated with heraldic devices (the designs used on coats of arms).

The gorgets made for Aboriginal people were usually decorated with Australian motifs but they are drawn in the style of English heraldic devices. For example, the emu and kangaroo which were often a part of the basic design on Aboriginal gorgets, were usually drawn standing up and looking back over their shoulders in a pose which is called 'regardant'. Their poses copy the style of English heraldic animals.

The gorgets are described in this book from the point of view of the hypothetical wearer. Therefore left refers to the wearer's left and right to the wearer's right. Most Aboriginal gorgets were crescent shaped. They had holes in each of the 'horns' of the crescent for a chain or cord from which the gorget could be hung around the wearer's neck.

Diagrammatic representation of gorget
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