Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Boomerang

Date:
mid to late 19th century
Geography:
Australia, Western Kimberley region, Western Australia
Culture:
Western Kimberley
Medium:
Wood, ocher
Dimensions:
L. 21 x W. 4 1/2 x D. 3/8 in. (53.3 x 11.4 x 1 cm)
Classification:
Wood-Implements
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
1979.206.1608
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 354
An iconic symbol of Aboriginal culture, the boomerang is the most familiar of all Aboriginal art forms. Created by many, but not all, Aboriginal peoples, boomerangs served a variety of purposes. The best-known type was the returning boomerang, which was made in parts of southeastern and western Australia. Most, however, were non-returning. Employed primarily in hunting and warfare, boomerangs were specialized throwing sticks, designed to strike the target and fall to the ground. In hunting, they usually served to incapacitate the prey, allowing the hunter to catch the animal, which was killed with spears or other weapons. Primarily projectiles, in some areas, boomerangs were also general purpose tools, serving, as needed, as knives, digging sticks, or fire-making implements. Some types were, and continue to be, used as musical instruments, clapped together to provide a rhythmic accompaniment for song and dance performances.
Douglas Newton, New York, until 1961; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1961, on permanent loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, 1961–1978

Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, 215.

Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 88, 147-8.

Kjellgren, Eric. How to Read Oceanic Art. How to Read 3. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, pp. 66.



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