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Title

Goanna totem

collected 1959


Artist

Tom Djawa

Australia

1905 - 1980

Language group

Gupapuyngu, Arnhem region


About

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


Details


Other Title

Bark painting (Goanna totem)


Date

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


Location

Not on display


Accession number

IA45.1959


Artist information

Tom Djawa

Works in the collection

4


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history


Referenced in 2 publications

Bibliography


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

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'