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Aboriginal breastplates in the National Museum of Australia
This listing provides a brief physical description of the breastplates held in the collections of the National Museum of Australia. Information about the people named on the breastplate has been included in the appropriate parts of the main text of the book.
The inscription on the breastplate is followed by its collection number and dimensions, then a short discourse about the breastplate.
Measurements are given in millimetres with the length of the breastplate followed by its height and then its thickness. Where a chain is attached it is sometimes in two pieces still attached to the right and left horns; rarely is the chain still whole and attached to both horns. Therefore the chain pieces are given as right then left and again the measurement is in millimetres.
The breastplates are arranged by state location and thereafter alphabetically by the contemporary place name, if known, where the breastplate was awarded, given or transferred to the receiver.
The number in brackets refers to the National Museum of Australia object identification number.
The full inscription is not given on this listing. You should view the image in the slideshow and read the text about each image.
The breastplates listed are those annotated in King Plates in 1993.
Where there is no place it is listed alphabetically by cultural affiliation.
* current information suggests this is the correct state
Aboriginal breastplates can be difficult to document and this work is made the more difficult as it is now many decades since they were last worn. Most pre-date living memory, with the majority having been given out between the mid nineteenth and very early twentieth century.
Further complicating matters is the change in place names, particularly property names. Many pastoral stations and farms have either been subsumed into larger properties or divided into smaller ones at various times. With this came name changes, with some names disappearing altogether.
Another complicating factor is the use of the same name in different places. Where we do not have definite information, they will be listed where we think they were most likely given out. Thus the breastplate inscribed with place "Wgga [sic] Wagga" is quite likely to be associated with the region around where the present city of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales is situated. However, there is also a place in Western Australia with the same name. Until we know for certain where this particular plate was given out, it will remain listed under New South Wales.
Occasionally breastplates have been inscribed with an Aboriginal cultural identity, usually a language name, but no place name. In these cases they are listed under the Aboriginal name and this has been indicated where appropriate.
Below you can see breastplates grouped according to where they came from. Alternatively, you can see the full set of breastplates in the National Museum's collection.
New South Wales
Adaminaby: Jemmy, King of Bolara Maneroo (NMA 1985.0059.0379) — Bolara is/was in the Adaminaby district.
Argyle: King John Cry, Chief of the Duedolgong tribe, Argyle (NMA 1985.0059.0380)
Bendora Bellevue: Jack the traveller, King of Bendora Bellevue and Jembicumbane (NMA 1985.0059.0371)
Big Leather: U Robert, King of Big Leather and Big River tribes (NMA 1985.0059.0364)
Big River: Jemmy, King of Big River (NMA 1985.0119.0001)
Big River: U Robert, King of Big Leather and Big River tribes (NMA 1985.0059.0364)
Boobarrego: Paddy, King of Boobarrego (NMA 1985.0059.0368)
Brewarrina: King Billy, King of the Barwon blacks (NMA 1985.0059.0365)
Brisbane Water: Jimmy, King, Brisbane Water (NMA 2004.0079.0004)
Broadwater: Billy Kelly, King of Broadwater (NMA 1985.0059.0367)
Bullangamang: Charley York, Chief of Bullangamang (NMA 1985.0059.0370)
Burunji: Queen Milly of the Burunji (NMA 2005.0095.0001 ) — Burunji is a language name for the people whose country straddles the Darling River in the vicinity of its junction with the Paroo River.
Clyde Road: Dicky, King of Clyde Road (NMA 1985.0059.0375)
Connai: Tommy, King of Connai (NMA 2004.0079.0017)
Cudgelbong: Michael Kinsela, Chief of Cudgelbong (NMA 2005.0093.0001)
Gongolgon: Tommy, King of Gongolgon (NMA 1985.0059.0366)
Holwood: Billy Lambert, Holwood, King’s Plains, 1834 (NMA 2005.0096.0001)
Jervis Bay: Budd Billy, II, King of Jarvis Bay (NMA 1985.0059.0373)
Jembicumbane: Jack the Traveller, King of Bendora Bellevue and Jembicumbane (NMA 1985.0059.0371)
King’s Plains: Billy Lambert, Holwood, King’s Plains, 1834 (NMA not accessioned)
Mahaderree: John Neville, King of Mahaderree (NMA 1985.0059.0381*)
Merigal: James Fearnought, King of Merigal (NMA 1985.0059.0382)
Merricumbene: Timothy, Chief of Merricumbene (NMA 1985.0059.0378)
Merton: Sam, King of Merton (NMA 2004.0079.0006)
Morbringer: Dennis, Chief of Morbringer (A-ON 117*)
Mudgee: Georgy, Mudgee police man, given by Mr Whitling (NMA 2006.0111.0001)
Murramarang: Coomee, last of her tribe, Murramarang, (NMA 1985.0059.0374)
Nelligen: Thomas Tinboy, King of Nelligan (NMA 1985.0059.0377)
Nuneree: Tumberilagong, Chief of the Nuneree tribe (NMA A-ON 115*)
Pialliway: Mr Briney of Pialliway (NMA 1985.00590.385)
Shannon Vielle: Wombail Oouthenang, Chief of Shannon Vielle (NMA 2004.0079.0010)
Unanderra: Geroone, Chief of Unanderra (NMA 1985.0099.0001)
Wagga Wagga: Dawalla, King of Wgga [sic] Wagga (NMA 2004.0079.0011)
Warangesda Mission: Peter, Chief of Warangesda Mission (NMA 2004.0079.0015)
Wellington: Tommy. Constable, Wellington (NMA 1985.0059.0369)
Wickham Hill: Sawyer, King of Wickham Hill (NMA 1985.0059.0387)
Wiggley: Jemmy Muggle, King of Wiggley (NMA 1985.0059.0376)
Wiljakali: Dan, Chief of the Wiljakali (NMA 2004.0079.0012) — Wiljakali is a language name for the people whose country straddles the SA/NSW border in the Silverton/Barrier Range/Mootwingee/Olary region
Wurtimurti: Eve, Queen of Wurtimurti (NMA 2004.0079.0014)
Wurtimurti: Jimmy, King of Wurtimurti (NMA 2004.0079.0013)
Australian Capital Territory
Naas Valley: Neddy, King of Neis Valley (NMA 1985.0059.0383)
Note: the Australian Capital Territory used to be part of New South Wales. 'Neis' is now spelt 'Naas'.
Bonnie Doon: Billy, King of Bonnie Doon, Lorne (NMA 2004.0079.0005) — Bonnie Doon and Lorne are stations now located about 70 kilometres just west of south of Blackall.
Boulia: Bob ‘Wheelpoolee’, King of Boulia, 1930 (NMA 2004.0079.0002)
Boulia: Nugget, ‘Billee-ling-oo’, Queen of Boulia, 1930 (NMA 2004.0079.0003)
Burdekin River: King Pepper of the Biria, Burdekin River, 1897 (2004.0079.0001)
Channing: Peter, King of Tchanning (NMA 1985.0059.0386) — current spelling of ‘Tchanning’
Cubbie Station: Billy Hippie, King of Minnon (NMA 1985.559.363)
Durham Downs: Ada Derika, Queen of Durham (NMA 1985.0336.0001)
Evesham: Dick, King of Evesham, Darr River (NMA A-ON 118)
Glastonbury: King Too Too, crack horsebreaker & Glastonbury, coach, groom (NMA 2000.0028.0001)
Nive Downs: Paddy, King of Nive Downs and Duke of Tambo (NMA 2006.0112.0001)
Tambo: Paddy, King of Nive Downs and Duke of Tambo (NMA 2006.0112.0001)
Teraicha: Hippi, King of Teraicha (NMA 2006.0019.0001)
Uanda: Brandy, Uanda (NMA 2004.0079.0016)
Vanrook: Toby, King of Vanrook (NMA 2005.0094.0001)
Waverney: King Tommy of Waverney (NMA 1987.0247.0001)
Coongie Lakes: King Mulga of Coongie Lakes, 1911 (NMA 2007.0096.0001)
Danoo: King Mallee of the Nyungar, Danoo outstation, 1881 (NMA 2004.0079.0009)
Windarra: Chief Leckie, Windarra tribe (NMA 2006.0110.0001)
Breastplates where place is unknown
Arremutta: Bulgra, King of Arremutta, 1920 (NMA A-ON 116)
Petraman: Joey, Chief of Petraman (NMA 1985.0059.0384)
Breastplates without place name
Count Dorsay (NMA 2005.0083.0001)
King Wanney, 1861 (NMA 2005.0098.0001)
This includes the image in the National Museum of Australia collection: military breastplate (NMA 1999.0004.0001)