Posted 5 years ago
Each Wednesday I go to see my father in a nursing home. On the trip there each week I go past a Vinnies and found this boomerang for sale. This is my first posting of some of my small collection of Australian Aboriginal objects. I am no expert on these objects. My interest was sparked in them by a gift from my Uncle Alf in the late 1950's. He had given me a 'woomera' - a throwing stick used to launch spears. He had bought it in Western Australia while working there as a marine surveyor.
Another spark in my interest in indigenous art and objects came from some books that my father had been given by his uncle in the 1930's. His uncle Alf had been bishop of the largest Catholic arch-diocese in the world during the World War II period, again in (northern) West Australia. These books on Indigenous Culture had been great visual references for me. Last year I went to Western Australia and in a four seater plane flew over the area from Perth to Geraldton and beyond that my relatives had seen and known.
In a way this object is part of a family story beyond the area where it was made. It is a link to the land that we call 'home'.
When I saw it, I recognised in its shape the grace and beauty of the native birds of Australia. Some people call these boomerangs "Swan-necked" but I also see the Emu, perhaps even a cassowary. Yet others refer to them as: "Hunting Boomerangs', 'Hook Boomerangs' , 'Beaked' and 'Number 7'.
The hunting boomerang is hand-crafted by the Aboriginal men into the shape of the number seven. The longer part of the boomerang is the used as handle and the shorter wing is extremely sharp. It is used by the men for hunting larger animals (kangaroo, emu) and in ceremonies, as a clapping stick.
It is an everyday object.
It is a custom shaped wood used in everyday life.
It is a wooden tool made from local materials.
The fluting is the signature of its maker/owner.
Note the 'fluting' is on one side of this one.
It is made from dogwood or mulga tree.
It is part root and part stem.
It is worked using flint/stone implements.
It is also fire worked.
It is a non-returner.
A man would have several of these.
It is 70 cm or 27.5 inches long
The beak is 27 cm or 10.6 inches long
The No.7 is produced with either a plain smooth surface, or a grooved/corrugated finish, which is a "signature" of the craftsperson and his clan.
I believe this one is from Central Australia near Alice Springs .....
But I am no expert.
Help is needed
"A boomerang is a custom shaped piece of wood used in everyday life. It is not a stick that comes back (very few come back). The purpose of the boomerang is to hunt animals for food or as a weapon in warfare. Sometimes they are also used in a similar way to clapsticks, to keep the beat during music They are made from hard wood - shaped, smoothed down, sometimes "fired" (to harden), then treated with a preservative and finally, painted (ceremonial ones).
Shapes differ from symmetrical to others having one side being much shorter than the other (the long side equals the throwing side which is held by the user.) Right and left handed boomerangs were made, using the same techniques on opposite sides. There are hundreds of different types of boomerangs to suit each environment (rainforests, open plains etc.) and purpose (weight, flight etc.).
Primarily, the boomerang is used by the men for hunting animals.
There is a second use for the boomerang - fighting. It is indeed a lethal weapon in skilled hands. They certainly are not used as Frisbees!
They are also used as musical instruments, to keep the beat (like clap-sticks) particularly for corroborees.
Boomerangs are individually hand crafted, no two will be exactly the same."