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Collection

An image of Wagilag sisters story - Wititj, olive python by Dawidi Djulwarak

Dawidi Djulwarak

(Australia 1921 – 1970)

Language group
Liyagalawumirr, Arnhem region
Title
Wagilag sisters story - Wititj, olive python
Other titles:
The Python Yulunggur (Wagilag Sisters Story)
Place of origin
MilingimbiCentral Arnhem LandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Year
1959
Media category
Bark painting
Materials used
natural pigments on bark
Dimensions

71.8 x 38.1 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1959
Accession number
IA44.1959
Copyright
© Dawidi Djulwarak/Bula'bula Arts. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Location
Not on display
Further information

The painting shows the python Julunggul [sic], who appears in the sacred Wagilag Sister's Story. A simple version of the story goes like this. The Wagilag are two sisters who traveled from south Arnhem Land (the Roper River area), eventually reaching a sacred waterhole or well in which, unknown to them the python Julunggul lived. The foods which they caught and collected, when placed on a fire, jumped up and disappeared into the waterhole. When one of the sisters gave birth to a baby, Julunggul smelt the afterbirth blood. Disturbed by this and by all the creatures jumping into his waterhole, the monstrous python emerged and swallowed the two sisters and the child. According to one version of the story, this symbolized the onset of the monsoon season. Later he vomited them up.

Virtually the complete surface of the bark sheet is taken up with Julunggul, resting coiled with eggs at the bottom of the sacred waterhole.

[Information supplied by the Methodist Overseas Mission, Milingimbi with original documentation probably by Dorothy Bennett]

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2005

Bibliography (2)

Jonathan Cooper (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales Bulletin, 'Yiribana', pg. 23-25, Sydney, Aug 1997-Oct 1997, 23 (colour illus.).

Frederick D. McCarthy, Australian Aboriginal art: bark paintings, carved figures, sacred and secular objects: an exhibition arranged by the State art galleries of Australia, 1960-1961, 'Introduction', pg. 7-17, Sydney, 1960, 12, 19 (illus.), 24. cat.no. 45; plate no. 1

Exhibition history (3)

Australian Aboriginal art: bark paintings, carved figures, sacred and secular objects: an exhibition arranged by the State art galleries of Australia, 1960-1961:

Bulada, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Aug 1997–14 Dec 1997

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