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Aboriginal Breastplate ‘King Jack of Bogewong’ #2014-0355

Crescent shaped brass breastplate engraved with words ‘King Jack of Bogewong’, and images of a kangaroo, a serpent, and an emu. The breastplate has holes at each apex where a chain could have been attached.


This breastplate relates to an Aboriginal individual, ‘King Jack’, who was probably associated with Bogewong Homestead in Queensland, near Longreach. The local Aboriginal group was the Malintji.

It was exhibited in the 1993-94 exhibition ‘Poignant Regalia’, which was curated by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and shown in venues in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Perth. The exhibition was a display of 183 Aboriginal breastplates held in public, regional and private collections in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

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Statement of values

This breastplate is of great historical significance for what it reveals about early Aboriginal/colonial Australian relations. Breastplates are a tangible record of relationships between Aboriginal people and colonists around mainland Australia from 1815 to the 1930s. They are significant as a record of colonial systems of governance and cross-cultural relations. Unlike other items given to Aboriginal people, such as blankets and clothing, breastplates are robust and, having been engraved for a particular person, unique. They are therefore of perhaps even greater significance as often the only tangible record left of a named Aboriginal person, their tribal group and traditional Country.

Breastplates document an Aboriginal person’s life and achievements and their conscious decision to reconcile and accommodate a rapidly changing world. Breastplates provoke mixed reactions: they are often aesthetically pleasing, but as evidence of how European values undermined Aboriginal social structures, they can be regarded as symbols (even tools) of dispossession and oppression. Alternatively, native title claims and a resurgence of interest in Aboriginal culture from the 1980s onwards have added to the significance of breastplates as research tools and evidence of ongoing connections to land.

  • Aboriginal Breastplate ‘King Jack of Bogewong’Aboriginal Breastplate ‘King Jack of Bogewong’ —


Width 220mm
Height 88mm
Medium Brass
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created c.1870-1880