We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Nyapililŋu Wapitja



Naminapu Maymuru-White


20 Jul 1952 –

Language group: Manggalili, Arnhem region

  • Details

    Alternative title
    Nyapililngu Wapitja
    Place where the work was made
    Yirrkala North-east Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Media category
    Materials used
    triptych: colour linoprint (reduction method)
    176.0 x 45.0 x 4.5 cm frame :

    a - side panel, 46 x 20.8 cm, Image

    a - side panel, 59 x 40 cm, Sheet

    b - centre panel, 46 x 20.8 cm, Image

    b - centre panel, 49 x 40 cm, Sheet

    c - side panel, 46 x 20.8 cm, Image

    c - side panel, 59 x 40 cm, Sheet

    Signature & date

    Signed l.r. [part 3], pencil "Naminapu Maymuru". Not dated. Part 1 and the centre panel are neither signed nor dated.

    Purchased 1996
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Naminapu Maymuru-White

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Naminapu Maymuru-White

    Works in the collection


  • About

    This print is a triptych and was first produced in a black and white format in 1989. The reduction method of printing used for this colour version means that the original 1989 blocks have been destroyed in the colour printing process. The layers of coloured ink on the surface of the paper have been built up to resemble the complex layers of paint on a bark painting; hence giving the print an extremely strong appearance.

    Part a - Nyapiliŋu, the subject of this print, is the most important female ancestor of the Maŋgalili clan. The Wapitja is the sacred digging stick carried by Nyapiliŋu and forms the inner shape of this print.

    Part b - The cross represents the string that Nyapililŋu spun out of possum fur and wore; it also symbolises how important she was. The horizontal lines are her 'raki', they represent a line of string.

    Part c - The animals represent an important role within the clan, for food, furs and string. The 'raki' is a symbol of their journey of the person who dies and how the spirit will travel.

    Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 1996

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Djon Mundine, Art and Australia (Vol. 34, No. 3), `Finding the Body The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award', pg. 319-321, Sydney, Jan 1997-Mar 1997, 319-321, 320 (colour illus.).

Other works by Naminapu Maymuru-White