Aboriginal Weapons & Their Traditional Uses
Aboriginal Weapons were often as fearsome as they were beautiful, so we take a look at five of the most well-known Aboriginal weapons in this article to give you a better idea of how they were used and for what purpose.
Aboriginal spears, ranging from 2.5 and 3 metres in length, were traditionally made from Tecoma vine or saplings. A wooden barb (although sometime this was made of stone) was then affixed to the tip of the spear with the use of kangaroo sinew, emu sinew, or spinifex resin. It was often the case that these spears were designed with the combined use of the woomera in mind.
Woomera (Spear throwers)
Woomera were ingenious devices used to propel spears much further than possible when thrown by hand, with this propulsion also adding significantly to the force of impact. Spear throwers were often used to hunt larger animals for food, but they were also used in warfare, with some purposely designed to deflect spears.
Shields in Aboriginal culture were designed primarily for warfare and exhibited impressive craftsmanship, which was particularly evident in the intricate designs they commonly featured. Shields had several purposes, and were used to either block projectile weapons, block spears or parry club attacks. These different needs demanded very different physical properties, so shields could range from something as small as 40 centimetres in size to something as large as 120 centimetres.
Boomerangs have become famous around the world for their unique shape and impressive aerodynamic abilities. Boomerangs, like many of the other weapons used by Aboriginal people, were designed both for either warfare or hunting purposes. Despite the basic boomerang concept appearing simple, it is anything but – depending on the shape, they may have been used in close quarters combat or for longer distance hunting for food.
As with many other examples of Aboriginal weapons, clubs were made to serve different purposes. In addition to their fearsome potential in warfare, clubs were also used in ceremonies, for digging and for grooving tools and weapons. In the case of warfare, clubs were designed as either projectiles (in the form of throwing clubs) or as bludgeoning tools.
See some Aboriginal weapons for yourself!
It’s absolutely worth paying a visit to your local museum to see how significantly Aboriginal weapons can differ in size, form, decoration and function. In doing so, you’ll likely develop a better understanding of how expansive Aboriginal society and culture really is.