- Museum number
Message stick of wood, oval in section, incised with designs including images of a house, three masted ship, and topographic features.
- Production date
- 19thc (before 1885)
Height: 25.50 centimetres
Width: 2.20 centimetres
Depth: 0.80 centimetres
- Curator's comments
See Christy Correspondence:
Sketches of items acquired from Sir F Napier Broome 27 April 1885.
Christy collection registration slip description, written in 1885?:
North West Australia
Message stick: a piece of yellow wood, oval in section, with scratched designs: on one side a house, and a wavy zigzag pattern &c: on the other a three masted vessel [ship] etc.
From Extreme N.W. of Australia
Christy's notes on objects from F.D. Broome illustrate the message sticks donated, and include a note made in pencil: 'message sticks (or rather newspapers)'. A description of what could be depicted on this message stick appears in a book written by Broome's wife, Lady Broome, 'Remembered with Affection. A new edition of Lady Broome's "Letters to Guy" with notes and a short life by Alexandra Hasluck', Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1963, p. 115-6:
Perhaps the "message sticks" are the most curious, with their smooth surface of which all the news of the place is neatly and carefully drawn. It looks like etching, and is done with a finely painted red-hot stick; it really is the newspaper of the district. You see the long strip of land, with its post and rail fence, or two or three rude houses which constitute the nucleus of what is going to be a great city, perhaps; or else there is an unmistakable bit of a harbour, and the fleet of pearlers is just coming in, with every sail set and a fair wind.There are some trees just indicated, men stand by an open grave, horses are picketed behind, and there is a rude cross in the corner, where a little clearing has been made to mark a former explorer's grave'.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015 23 Apr-2 Aug, London, BM, G35, Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation
2015-2016 27 Nov-28 Mar, Canberra, National Museum of Australia, Encounters
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: Oc1885C2.2424-2425 (old CDMS no.)