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An image of Mardayin at Milmilngkan by John Mawurndjul

John Mawurndjul

(Australia 1952 – )

Language group
Kuninjku, Arnhem region
Mardayin at Milmilngkan
Place of origin
ManingridaCentral Arnhem LandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Media category
Materials used
hard-ground etching, black ink on white wove Velin Arches 250gsm paper

64.0 x 34.5 cm platemark; 76.0 x 56.0 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed l.r. beneath platemark, pencil "JOHNNY". Not dated.
Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 2004
Accession number
© John Mawurndjul. Licensed by Viscopy, Australia
Not on display
Further information

This work by Mawurndjul concerns a major patrimoeity ceremony of a secret and sacred nature called Mardayin. Much of the meaning of the iconography in the painting is not in the domain of public knowledge and so it cannot be explained in detail here.

"Yoh Milmilngkan maneh yina kunronj manekke mane yi-na. Ka-bo-bebme. Djal njamed 'spring'."
Yes, this is the site at Milmilngkan and these represent water, you can see here. The water comes out [the little round dots are water/springs]. They are springs.

"Kam-borrolkan Milmilngkan kunred but manekke njamed ka-karrme man-djimdjim spring kunronj kam-bobebme. Ngalyod might be kanjdiji mayh ka-yo ngalyod. Mani rarrk nga-bimbom. Kunred manekke. Kuning ka-yime bonj ka-borrohdolkan nga-nang boyen."
The water comes out at Milmilngkan and there are springs there surrounded by water pandanus (Pandanus aquaticus) where the water comes out of the ground. This might be caused by rainbow serpents which live under the ground there. This is all cross-hatched here. The cross-hatching represents the country there. That's what happens there, I've recently seen the water coming up out of the ground there.

NOTE: Milmilngkan is another of Mawurndjul's seasonal camps where he has a house there on the edge of a small creek.

© Information provided by Maningrida Arts & Culture, 2004

Bibliography (1)

Hetti Perkins, Crossing country: the alchemy of western Arnhem Land art, Sydney, 2004, 226.

Exhibition history (2)

Crossing country: the alchemy of Western Arnhem Land art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 24 Sep 2004–12 Dec 2004

The Dreamers (2009-10), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 May 2009–15 Aug 2010