Name/TitleBreast Plate - King Joe of the Wiradjuri
About this objectAboriginal breastplate, made of hand beaten brass with three rows of circular punched marks decorating the perimeter and widening to twelve rows at either end. The name, KING JOE, in upper case, is formed with the same circular punch marks. The plate is engraved with two emus and two kangaroos sejant facing each other and the words PRESENTED BY T. ICELY BANGAROO STATION 14-1-1844. A handmade figure-of-eight brass chain (of 36 links) is attached through a hole pierced in each horn of the breastplate, to enable it to be worn around the neck.
Breastplates were never a part of traditional Aboriginal culture. Often referred to as ‘King’ plates because of the titles engraved on them, they were introduced by Governor Macquarie around 1815. Initially presented by the colonial government, early settlers also adopted the practice of presenting breastplates to individual Aboriginal people in recognition of services rendered.
Although considered to be controversial items, the surviving breastplates are significant historical objects evidencing the changing relationships between Aboriginals and non Aboriginals in Australia’s colonial past.
This breastplate awarded to King Joe is a significant cultural object because it is the only known record of an Aborigine who featured in both black and white communities during the very early days of the region’s European settlement.
It is of historical significance because of its association with Thomas Icely. Icely was a successful pioneer settler, whose acquisition of vast pastoral lands in the Parish of Bangaroo, served to shape the development of the central western region of NSW.
It is of national historical significance to Aboriginal and European culture as breastplates are one of the few tangible items of a cross-cultural nature and the only one to survive in numbers with an almost Australia wide distribution.
Update August 2019 Hayley Lavers
Medium and MaterialsBrass and chain
Inscription and MarksKING JOE PRESENTED BY T. ICELY BANGAROO STATION 14-1-1844