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Theme: The Land

Birth/Death: 1930–1987

Title: The birth of the Djang'kawu children at Yalangbara

Credit Line: Purchased from Gallery admission charges 1983. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

This bark painting by Wandjuk Marika was made in 1982. It depicts the Djan’kawu giving birth to the first Australian clans at Yalangbara in Eastern Arnhem Land.

In the top section the brother stands with his digging sticks, which were later transformed into casuarina trees. The central panel describes the birth of the clans and the lower panel presents the birth schematically, with the dotted shapes representing the afterbirths and the circular forms the children. The fine rarrk or crosshatched pattern in the background represents the shifting sands on the beach at Yalangbara.

For Aboriginal artists images like these of ancestor figures and the narratives associated with them, refer both to the distant past of the Dreamtime and to the present laws and ceremonies that govern everyday life today.

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