This is a trial proof of an etching plate that was later editioned in another state. The difference between this trial proof and the main edition is that skull is embossed only as opposed to being embossed and coloured. This subtle difference makes it unique and eminently collectable.
Skulls were the main trading currency used by the Torres Strait Islander people with their Papua New Guinean neighbours. These trading skulls were acquired in battle and through raiding parties to other islands and the Australian mainland. They were traded mainly for canoe hulls which could not be sourced on the islands.
The Gaba Gab was a weapon widely used throughout the Torres Strait and Pacific Islands in the pursuit of such skulls. Different markings and nuances in construction of the war club would identify the owner and their place of origin.
The canoes and skulls depicted on the shaft of the Guba Gub identify its purpose.
A Bu or conch shell and Bush Turkey are depicted on the head of the Guba Gub. The relevance of this is that the bush turkey made a particular sound in the early hours of the morning that alerted the Badu Islanders of approaching enemies. The Bu shell, blown like a trumpet, was also a means of alerting the community to impending danger.