NMA collection record

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Glass plate negative - The game of

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Men and boys playing a game of 'gorri', 1922


This is a photograph by Herbert Basedow of three men and two boys moving toward the left of the frame. Three hold spears, ready to throw. The other two appear to have just thrown a spear. The spears are aimed at a dinner-plate-sized bark disc, which can just be seen behind the left arm of the boy on the left. Two other people observe the activity in the background.

Educational value

All over Aboriginal Australia men, youths and sometimes boys play games where they try to spear moving targets. Often the targets are round discs of bark. In the Humbert River area two sides take it in turns to spear the disc rolled in front of them. Games such as this help the younger players develop their spear-throwing skills.

Herbert Basedow was a doctor, anthropologist and explorer. From 1903 to 1928 he ventured to remote regions of central and northern Australia - places rarely seen by Australians even today. Aboriginal people often feature in his photographs. Basedow wanted to document Aboriginal cultures as they had been before British colonisation, and often went to some lengths to craft his photographs to appear as such.

This photograph was taken during an expedition to the Victoria River district south-west of Darwin in the Northern Territory, on behalf of the Mararoa Gold Mining Company.

© Education Services Australia Limited and the National Museum of Australia 2010

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