NMA collection record

Warning: This record may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Glass plate negative - Week old baby sleeping in a wooden container, Innamincka station, South Australia, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1919

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Week-old baby asleep in a wooden container, 1919


This is a photograph by Herbert Basedow of a naked baby boy asleep in an oblong wooden container resting on sandy ground. His feet are a little wrinkly, as those of newborn babies sometimes are.

Educational value

Implements used by Aboriginal people often have more than one function. In many places bark and wooden containers also act as cradles, as seen here at Innamincka station. With the baby sleeping in it, the container is set down on the sandy ground. The mother can then rock it gently with her foot, freeing up her hands for other activities like food preparation.

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 Basedow's first medical relief expedition to north-east South Australia.

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

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