Kodj (axe)

Collection Highlights | Updated 12 months ago

An Aboriginal stone axe
Kodj (axe)
Image copyright of WA Museum

Artist unknown, Nyoongar.

Kodj were only made by Nyoongar peoples of the South west. Two dolerite stone tools, called scrapers, were fastened to the wooden handle using Xanthorrhoea resin. There are two kodj styles–one, like this kodj, includes two scrapers positioned to provide sharp cutting edges; the other has one sharp cutting edge, and a “blocky” shape for hammering or pounding.

Before the late 1820s kodj were used to make hand and footholds in tree trunks to aid in the search for possums and birds’ eggs. They continued in use after colonisation, until metal axes became accessible and favoured.

A new food resource, also accessible using kodj-cut hand and foot holds, was honey from the hives of European bees, brought to the colony by early settlers after 1830. These distinctive tools  were highly sought after collectibles by visiting travellers, explorers, and colonists.  Kodj are found in international museum collections including the British Museum.

Collected by Alfred Waylen in the early 1830s, donated by Bill Bunbury in 1985.

Aboriginal cultures collection