Depicting cross-cultural interaction: figurative designs in wood, earth and stone from south-east Australia
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We examine Aboriginal wooden artefacts traded between European and Aboriginal Australians in south-east Australia in order to gain insight into the impact of cross-cultural interaction on Aboriginal art traditions. Although we focus on wooden objects with figurative designs made and exchanged over the past 150 or more years, as well as their links to earlier ground, tree and rock-art traditions, the study contributes to a larger understanding of cultural change not well documented with ethnography. Information from 469 individual pieces in 90 private and public collections, is summarised, along with the development of individual, community and regional styles. A theory about the role of such material culture during changing times in south-east Australia is outlined. More generally, it is argued that material culture both mediates and expresses change, with figurative motifs and storytelling through pictures particularly effective when communicating to diverse groups of people of varying cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Archaeology in Oceania
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