NMA collection record

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Glass plate negative - Two men throwing spears

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Two men demonstrating the use of spear-throwers, 1922


This is a photograph by Herbert Basedow of two men who are each throwing a spear with the aid of a spearthrower.

Educational value

Spearthrowers enable people to throw a spear further and faster. To use a spearthrower, the concave (hollowed-out) end of the spear is placed onto the peg of the thrower. The narrower part of the spearthrower rests in the palm, and the spear rests on the middle to little fingers, held in place with the thumb and forefinger. Timing the release is critical, so that the spear doesn't come off the peg either too early or too late in the throw.

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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