Antique Australian aboriginal carved emu egg
This specimen probably dates from mid to late 19th Century. This is known as "Kalti Paarti", the practice of carving emu eggs. This art form has been continued to the present day. These early example usually have quite naïve carvings compared to the later tourist items. With this example if you look closely you can see where the shell has been scraped away with a blade of some description and smoother areas where the pattern was smoothed, often using fine sand. By doing this the artist reveals the blue grey layers below the outer layer of the shell. The deeper it is carved, the whiter the layer which gives the whole cameo its depth and dimension.
For an interesting overview of the history and different styles have a look at the Australian Museum website http://australianmuseum.net.au/Kalti-Paarti-Introduction
The scene depicted on this egg is of an aboriginal hunter holding a spear and a boomerang. In the tree behind is a possum and the moon or sun is picked out in deeper carving as a white disk. There is only one hole in the bottom of the egg through which the contents must have been removed and this was roughly chipped out as can be seen from the photo. There are no cracks or breaks in the egg.
This is a lovely item and one that I am very pleased to have owned as it is a real, tactile object from Australian history and a fine example of this aboriginal art form.