Important Aboriginal + Oceanic Art
24 March 2010

John Mawurndjul

born 1952

natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark

137.0 x 70.0 cm (irregular)

$16,000 - 20,000

Maningrida Arts and Culture, Northern Territory (cat. 3846-07, label attached verso)
Private collection, Brisbane

Catalogue text

This painting is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Maningrida Arts and Culture, Northern Territory, which states in part: 'John Mawurndjul has depicted the billabong at Milmilngkan where Ngalyod – the rainbow serpent – resides under the water. Kuninjku people say there are two Rainbow serpents. One is said to have been the original creator of all ancestral beings, the 'first mother'. Yingarna's first born is a Rainbow serpent called Ngalyod. Yingarna – the Rainbow serpent – or her son Ngalyod are common subjects on contemporary Kuninjku bark paintings.

Ngalyod is very imporant in Kuninjku cosmology and is associated with the creation of all sacred sites, djang, in Kuninjku clan lands. For example, ancestral stories relate how creator or ancestral beings had travelled across the country and had angered Ngalyod who swallowed them and returned to the earth to create the site. Today, Ngalyod protects these sites and its power is present in each one.

Ngalyod has both powers of creation and destruction and is most strongly associated with rain, monsoon seasons and rainbows which are a manifestation of Ngalyod's power and presence. Ngalyod is associated with the destructive power of the storms and with the plenty of the wet season, being both a destroyer and a giver of life. Ngalyod's power controls the fertility of the country and the seasons.'