Michael Boiyool Anning lives at Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tableland in far north Queensland. He belongs to the Yidinyji people of the rainforest region, which extends south from Cairns to Cardwell.
Bama (The people) 2003 incorporates figurative representations of Anning's Yidinyji ancestors within the composition of the shield. He honours them in his contemporary revival of Yidinyji cultural forms and themes. The human bones on the shield invoke the memory of past generations.
This style of shield was once used for ritualised combat and in warfare involving various rainforest groups. The shields are cut from the buttress (root) of the softwood fig tree and are then carved, incised and decorated with coarsely ground ochres. A hardwood sword was often used with the shield, and great strength and skill were required to wield them in combat.
Michael Boiyool Anning is recognised as Queensland's foremost Indigenous artist reviving the tradition of shield making.