David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU | Murayana Spirit

Australia 1927 – 1999
Murayana Spirit
ABETH-2965 Figure sculpture: bands on face and neck and jagged leaf shapes on torso 1990
natural pigments on wood
184.0 (h) x 28.5 (w) x 23.0 (d) cm
Acquired 1990 with Mobil Oil Funds. Mobil Yathalamarra collection Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Collection, Darwin
© David Malangi. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
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Murayana is a mokuy [ghost] who came from the east and is associated with the forest near Yathalamarra. Murayana is a trickster spirit who roams the forest, often turning the country around so people get lost.

Murayana’s body is decorated with the plants of the open forest — the long leaves of the white flowering wäri tree, the yamany with its edible yellow berries, and the slender dhirmbukvine with its edible tubers which is said to be one of Murayana’s favourite foods. The miny’tji [pattern] of these plants is painted onto the body of initiates during circumcision and was always used by Malangi in paintings of Murayana as his body decoration or the floral elements that frame the painting. Similarly the artist decorated his figure carvings of Murayana with the same designs.
Murayana, this man
manymak[good] … That tree belongs to Murayana, I call it wäri, it belongs to Murayana, dhirmbuk that belongs to tucker. That belongs to Murayana because he’s the boss … Malangi, 1989[1]

[1] David Malangi from an interview with Margie West at Ramingining and Yathalamarra, September 20–21, 1989.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Excerpt from Margie West, ‘Yathalamara — land of the waterlily’ in the exhibition catalogue No ordinary place: the art of David Malangi, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2004, p. 42–50. 

The publication, which includes articles by the exhibition curator Susan Jenkins, Nigel Lendon and Djon Mundine, is available from the Gallery Shop for $34.95 (RRP $49.95) or online at ngashop.com.au.

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