Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/97

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84 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

of the shield. Sometimes the eleman is decorated with a representation of a hand, formed by placing that member on its surface while the paint or gum with which it is coated is yet moist. A handle, formed of thongs of hide, is fastened on the inner side, and a layer of soft bark, fixed to the shield, saves the knuckles from the effects of friction. Besides the implements above enumerated, and which comprise the principal weapons of war and hunting among the aborigines, numerous other articles of a similar though inferior description are met with, varying in design and construction among different tribes. Of these may be mentioned a small spear, formed of reed, and used as a javelin in offensive operations.

When a tribe of aborigines encamp in any locality an armoury is formed, in which the whole of the weapons belonging to the warriors are deposited. The site chosen is generally in the shade of some gigantic gum-tree, or other towering lord of the forest, round the trunk of which, in a standing position, and with a due regard to regularity, are placed the spears, while the boomerangs, clubs, shields, and other smaller weapons are arranged with equal care on the turf at the base of the tree.

Among the utensils of the New Holland tribes may be mentioned a vessel resembling a calabash, used for carrying water; this is formed out of a globular-shaped substance, composed of an excrescence of the gum- tree, and which, when hollowed out, forms a vessel well adapted to the use for which it is intended.