3727

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Kimberley Point Aboriginal Spear Head

Aboriginal People, possibly the Bunuba People, Kimberley Region, Northern Western Australia
late 19th-early 20th century

entire length: 18.8cm, length of (exposed) head: 3.5cm, width: 2.6cm

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Provenance

private collection, Channel Islands, UK.

This fine example of what is known as a Kimberley ‘point’ glass spear head, was made by the Aboriginals of the Kimberley region in the far north of Western Australia. The Bunuba people were the main group in the area.

It is an interesting example of the early impact of white settlement on the indigenous people. Traditional spear heads were fashioned from flint and other suitable hard stones, but this example has been made by chipping away at glass – probably from a glass bottle discarded by a white settler. It is of amber glass, tear-shaped, double-edged and comes to a long, fine point.

It has been fixed to a short wooden shaft with resin or gum, and then the resin and shaft have been daubed with pink ochre.

A number of these are in the British Museum. See Sculthorpe et al (2015, p. 169) for an example that was collected in the Kimberley region in 1899 by a policeman who had been sent to the region to disperse camps of Aboriginal people some of whom were suspected of having taken sheep that belonged to the settlers, and even of murders of settlers. (Such conflicts were a feature as the settlers appropriated the traditional land of the Aboriginals.) The spear head was among the items collected from a dispersed camp and sent to the Museum.

The example here is in excellent condition.

References

Sculthorpe, G., et al., Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, The British Museum, 2015.

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