Natives. (Armed) (In Deep Mourning)

Fine and rare lithograph of two New South Wales aborigines, from the first issue of Capt. Robert Westmacott’s, ‘Views of Australia’.  The two figures have the following captions; The left; (Armed) and the right; (In Deep Mourning) Sold with the rare … Read Full Description

$A 550

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S/N: SIAU-ABOR-006–183353
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Full Title:

Natives. (Armed) (In Deep Mourning)




In good condition.


Hand coloured lithograph, with one tint.

Image Size: 

x 220mm
Natives. (Armed) (In Deep Mourning) - Antique Print from 1848

Genuine antique



Fine and rare lithograph of two New South Wales aborigines, from the first issue of Capt. Robert Westmacott’s, ‘Views of Australia’

The two figures have the following captions; The left; (Armed) and the right; (In Deep Mourning)

Sold with the rare original letterpress description.

Westmacott was an army officer and artist who arrived in Sydney in December 1831 from Mauritius. He was aide-de-camp to Governor Bourke, travelling extensively throughout the colony. Onl his retirement from the army in 1837, he purchased land at North Bulli, building a house he named, ‘Sidmouth’ and primarily bred horses. He was actively engaged in local affairs and was said to have discovered and surveyed a new road up the mountain above Bulli, now called Bulli Pass. From: Westmacott Sketches in Australia From Drawings by Catn. R.M.Westmacott, Late 4th. King’s Own Regt.

Letterpress description:


The Aboriginal population of New South Wales may be classed in the lowest scale of human beings at present known to the white man. The generality of the people are small in stature, with large heads, broad shoulders, long arms, and are very ugly. Their clothing consists simply of an oppossum cloak. They are fond of adorning their persons with the teeth of kangaroo, cockatoo feathers, flying squirrel tails, &c. &c. They cover their bodies with whatever grease they can obtain, and with sharp flint cut their breasts, arms, and backs, making long gashes, which they fill with earth, keeping the wound open until it heals: it then presents a frightful scare or weal. The males have the front tooth struck out upon arriving at puberty. When they mourn for one of their tribe, or go to war, they smear their bodies with pipe clay and a yellow pigment they make from the bark of trees. They evince some skill in making their war and fishing implements, and are very dexterous in using them. They throw the spear with great precision from one hundred to one hundred and twenty yards, by means of the womera or throwing stick, a piece of wood about three feet long, three inches broad at one end, terminating at a point at the other, to which a hook is fastened; this hook is inserted into the extremity of the spear, a small hole being made to receive it, and the womera being grasped at the broad part, the arm is suddenly extended, and the spear flies off, the womera remaining in the hand. The bomerang is also a very extraordinary implement used by these savages. Its form is that of a curve, the concave part is something more than a quarter of an inch thick, but the convex side is very sharp. They throw this instrument fifty or sixty yard; in its flight it turns round with great rapidity, and suddenly rising to a great height in the air it then returns, and ultimately falls at the feet of the person throwing it; this weapon is used in hunting as well as war.

It would be difficult to describe their religious beliefs, but they have an idea of the existence of a good and evil spirit. The latter they insist wanders about at night, and therefore nothing will induce a native to move about after nightfall; when the day closes they halt, and to use their own phrase – they sit down. When one of the tribe dies, the name is never mentioned for one twelvemonth, nor is any allusion made concerning the deceased. They treat their women brutally, and they obtain their wives after a very novel fashion. They steal the woman from another tribe, cautiously following their track and watching for the opportunity when the men leave the camp for hunting. The suitor then rushes on the female he desires to secure, and beats her until she is senseless, when he carries her off. He has however to undergo a severe penalty for this. In the first place, the aggrieved tribe is allowed to select a certain number of companions or warriors to throw their spears at the delinquent, who is only permitted to use the helieman or shield to defend himself. Should he escape from this, he is subjected to a still more severe trial: a man is selected to meet him, and each is armed with a waddy; one quietly presents his head and receives a desperate blow; this being inflicted, the other then offers his head for the same discipline, and this continues until they reel about quite senseless. The blows inflicted would be sufficient to kill any other human being, but these people’s skulls are of extraordinary thickness. After this the two tribes become friends, and pass a day or two in dancing their corrobories , and in exhibiting other demonstrations of friendship. Many attempts have been made to civilize them, and make them of some use, but instances of their leaving their wild habits are rare. In some later numbers further accounts of this wild people will probably be given.

Capt. Robert Westmacott (1801 - 1870)

Sketcher, army officer and pioneer. He is best known for his sketches in Australia, a series of views of Sydney and rural New South Wales. Settling north Bulli he bred horses and was said to have discovered and surveyed the road now called Bulli Pass.

View other items by Capt. Robert Westmacott

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