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Collection

An image of The mortuary rites for Muraruma (Muramura) by Mawalan Marika

Mawalan Marika

(Australia circa 1908 – 26 Nov 1967)

Language group
Rirratjingu, Arnhem region
Title
The mortuary rites for Muraruma (Muramura)
Other titles:
Mortuary rites for Muraruma
Place of origin
YirrkalaNorth-east Arnhem LandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Year
circa 1960
Media category
Bark painting
Materials used
natural pigments on bark
Dimensions

109.2 x 55.9 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1960
Accession number
IA32.1960
Copyright
© Mawalan Marika. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Location
Not on display
Further information

In the center section Muraruma's body is being disinterred by two of his clansmen. Decay associated with maggots is depicted by white dashes around the body and the cross-hatching represents the earth dug from the grave and dust raised by the dancers. A yidaki (digeridoo) player with paperbark resonator, songman with clapsticks and one of Muraruma's wives are all depicted in this section. The four dancing figures (lower left) painted with clay and carrying dancing sticks are taking part in the ceremony. The bones were then wrapped in paper bark and taken to Yirrkala and kept until a bone-carrying bark was prepared. A shield of bushes was erected (shown by vertical red, yellow and black lines) to make private their activities. The bone-carrying bark was cut, rolled into a cylindrical shape and painted, the bones placed therein, and the ends stopped up with wild bees wax. The white dashes around the receptacle represent maggots. Five dancing figures (lower right) are depicted taking part in the ceremony. After two years, a hollow log bone post was made and painted into which the bones were transferred after being broken up. In the top section four clansmen are depicted erecting the post. Five are shown dancing, carrying dancing sticks, and three women (top left) are carrying banyan string. The vertical strip of red represents an area cleared for dancing, and the cross-hatching denotes that the scene is amongst trees. The wooden shovel spears and woomera shown are of the type used to kill Muraruma.

© Information provided by the artist

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

Exhibition history (3)

Purchases and Acquisitions for 1960, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Mar 1961–23 Apr 1961

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

Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000