A fine and very rare rainforest paddle with traditional diamond patterning in ochres to the front and back of the bi-convex ovoid 'head', with an undecorated carved wood handle. Paddles such as this are clearly related in shape to the traditional rainforest clubs, which in their early 20th century incarnations were also painted with ochred designs related to those on the large shields. As opposed to those traditional large softwood shields, which were used in warfare, these later variants, together with the smaller early 20th century rainforest shields, were used purely ceremonially, usually in dance. There are very few examples known of this 'dance specific' paddle format, as opposed to 'fighting format' artefacts (clubs, shields, boomerangs) brought over into the realm of ritual by appropriate decoration.
Published: Christie's catalogue Australian Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 30 August, 2005 (lot128).
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