Open accessibilty tools

Australian Aboriginal shield

It is thought the artwork on this Australian Aboriginal shield tells of thunder and lightning, which is part of the rain dreaming. The circle in the centre represents the water, the two snake symbols represent the thunder and the two straight lines represent lightning.

Australian Aboriginal shield

Aboriginal were the first race of people to populate Australia, around 50,000 years ago and a diverse range of Aboriginal people still live there today. Central to the identity of Australian Aborigines is ‘The Dreaming’, a system of beliefs and cultural values which describes the relationship between the spiritual, natural and moral elements of the world. A long and rich tradition of art and storytelling pass these down to future generations.

In most stories of the Dreaming, the Ancestor Spirits came to the earth in human form. They created the land, animals, plants and their relationship to people. Australian Aboriginal art often shows these stories through symbols. These symbols can also represent sacred places or the location of a waterhole, campsite, or different animals.

Image courtesy of Middlesbrough Museums Service