Leaf-shaped spearthrower with resin covered ends. One side is decorated with carved linear decoration, and the other side has notches along the edge.

Spearthrower with Notched Carving, Western Australia. Spearthrowers, often generally termed woomera when they are from Australia, enabled the Aboriginal hunter or warrior to propel his spear with greater force and accuracy over greater distances. They were immensely useful tools, and were found throughout the continental mainland of Australia in a vast array of different forms. This leaf-shaped style was manufactured throughout Western Australia, and bears the characteristic linear grooves of that region’s decorative arts on its upper, concave side. The short wooden peg that fits into the spear-butt is secured by a blob of Spinifex gum (Triodia spp.), and the handle is formed at the other end from the same material. This object has additional interest in also demonstrating the widespread Aboriginal practice of combining two tools in one: We often encounter shields that have been used as the hearth for fire-starting, but this spearthrower has also been notched to serve as a musical rasp. Wood and Resin. Late 19th century. Formerly in the private collection of Mr James Edge Partington.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: enquiry@horniman.ac.uk