Skip to content


An image of The story of Djirt by Narritjin Maymuru

Narritjin Maymuru

(Australia circa 1916 – 1981)

Language group
Manggalili, Arnhem region
The story of Djirt
Other titles:
The story of Djirrt
Place of origin
DjarrakpiNorth-east Arnhem LandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Media category
Bark painting
Materials used
natural pigments on bark

92.0 x 40.0 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Harry Messel 1989
Accession number
© Narritjin Maymuru. Licensed by Viscopy, Australia
Not on display
Further information

A small boy called Djirt found a dead fish on the beach and began to cook it. His father asked him to share the fish but Djirt refused. Then Djirt's father went fishing in a dug-out which is shown twice near the top of the painting, with paddles, woomera and fishing spear. The father caught many fish and began to cook them in a special cooking place shown at the centre of the painting. Djirt asked his father to share the fish, but the father said: "No, this will pay you back".

Djirt was so unhappy with this that he began to weep and wail and slowly changed into a bird and flew to the top of a tree. His father was so upset that he to changed into a bird and flew into the tree to join his son. The two birds are shown at the top of the painting sitting in the tree and the metamorphoses is depicted in the body of the painting.

At the bottom left we see Djirt's mother and aunt digging for yams. The mother has a dilly bag around her neck. Djirt's two uncles are shown at bottom left weaving a dilly bag with bush string.

Harry Messel

Bibliography (1)

Edmund Capon, Steven Miller, Tony Tuckson, James Scougall, Mollie Gowing, Harry Messel, Craig Brush, Ronald Fine, Alison Fine, Gordon Davies, Rosalind Davies, Christopher Hodges, Helen Eager, Rosemary Gow, Sandra Phillips, Daphne Wallace and Ken Watson, Gamarada, Sydney, 1996, 55 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (2)

Gamarada, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Nov 1996–16 Feb 1997

ochre: bark paintings from the Collection (2000-01), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Nov 2000–06 May 2001