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Collection

An image of Goanna totem by Tom Djawa

Tom Djawa

(Australia 1905 – 1980)

Language group
Gupapuyngu, Arnhem region
Title
Goanna totem
Other titles:
Bark painting (Goanna totem)
Place of origin
Buckingham BayCentral Arnhem LandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Year
collected 1959
Media category
Bark painting
Materials used
natural pigments on bark
Dimensions

76.8 x 36.2 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1959
Accession number
IA45.1959
Copyright
© Tom Djawa/Bula'bula Arts. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Location
Not on display
Further information

Goanna Totem. Male and Female are depicted, the females having eggs connected together. Separating line in the middle is a layer of rock. At a time of great drought the goanna people tried to find water. They dug and dug down through the rocks until finally they were stopped by the rock shown in the painting. They turned to stone and their remains can be seen in the shape of a mountain at Arnhem Bay. The mountain still looks like a goanna.

The painting is used in an increase ceremony and as a teaching aid.

[Information supplied by the Methodist Overseas Mission, Milingimbi]

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

Bibliography (2)

Charles P Mountford (Editor), Records of the American-Australian scientific expedition to Arnhem Land 1: Art, myth and symbolism, Melbourne, 1956, (illus.). plate no. 118 'B'

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, 18 (illus.), 24. cat.no. 46; plate no. 18

Exhibition history (1)

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