Western Australia. Eighty-Mile Beach area, Karrajarri (Karadjarri, Karadjeri) people. Front engraving possibly from area between Broome and Fitzroy River, North and East of Karajarri country. Narrow wooden shield incised with interlocking key patterns.
The Karajarri, who occupy the area along the Eighty-Mile Beach between the De Grey River and Broome call these shields karrbinna and carved them out of a type of eucalyptus. D. S. Davidson, then Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington, noted in 1949 that the Karajarri were responsible for most, if not all, examples of traditional shields incised with well-proportioned interlocking key patterns. They also used this and variations of the design on their pearl shell ornaments and tywerrenge (or churingas - sacred objects or amulets), although numerous other Aboriginal groups applied the design to theirtywerrenge as well. These shields functioned as defensive arms to intercept boomerangs and to parry blows from clubs during close combat. The Karajarri later valued them as trade items which they exchanged with other peoples throughout the coastal areas from La Grange northward to Dampierland and King Sound.
The Karajarri engraved the back of their shields with precise patterns. Not having a larger design in mind, they treated the space as important in itself and often incised surfaces not covered by the interlocking pattern using alternate series of diagonal hatchings ... They carved the face of their shields with fine grooves but also, in more recent examples, simply adzed them to a smooth finish. The front of the shield on the right carries ten sections of etched meandering lines, patterns similar to those found on softwood objects from the region between the Fitzroy River and Broome.