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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Two brothers and Modjarrkki the crocodile



Lena Yarinkura


1961 -

Language groups

Kune, Arnhem region, Rembarrnga, Arnhem region


Two brothers and Modjarrkki the Crocodile

A husband and wife and the man's younger unmarried brother got up and set off. The man and his wife left the single man who went off by himself hunting with his dog.

The young man came to a creek where he was about to go down to the water and saw there were sliding tracks of a crocodile drying in the sun. "Oh" he said, "I must be looking at fresh water tracks. I'll go and get my older brother. I'll go get my big brother so he'll go and kill it and break its neck somewhere there in the water."

He went back to the camp and sat down and told his brother as the sun started to sink down in the afternoon. "Brother I left a fresh water crocodile back there." "Think where you saw it and I'll go break its neck" his brother said.

That rope, (pointing to the rope around the paperbark crocodile sculpture) they were going to try to tie the crocodile up around its snout. They both went off and the younger brother showed the elders the crocodile up around its snout. They both went off and the younger brother showed the elder the crocodile tracks. "Let's try and kill it", one said to the other. "Yes, let's kill it and eat it."

He got a large rope, organised it and went down into the water, looked for the crocodile but nothing. It was the older brother who went down. He went down again in another direction looking for it but nothing.

Again he went down and searched for it, this time feeling inside a hollow log in the water, he searched around under the water and he felt it and grabbed it. So he came to the surface and told the younger brother "Give me the rope, give me the rope", he said. So the other brother handed him the rope, he gave it to him and he went down and tied the rope around the crocodile.

He should have tied up its legs as well but he didn't do it properly, so he came to the surface and said to his brother, "Get ready when I come up out of the water again", he said. He tied up the crocodile and lifted it up out of the water. He climbed up with the crocodile and nearly reached the top of the bank when the rope came loose.

The rope came off and the crocodile turned back into the water and attacked the older brother while the younger brother stood by. "Oh no it's fighting my brother, it's going to kill him", but his brother was now already dead and as he looked he could see parts of his brother floating in the water. He wailed "Oh my brother, oh my brother". He cried and wailed. He turned to his brother's wife and said bring over my brother's daughter, now you and I will marry. And so the younger married his dead brother's wife.

Maningrida Arts and Culture Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation 1994




Media category


Materials used

2 male figures, female figure, dog and crocodile; paperbark, string, natural ochres


a - male figure, 40 x 32 x 11 cm

b - female figure, 132 x 32.3 x 9.3 cm

c - male figure with rope, 130.8 x 32.5 x 6 cm

d - dog, 39 x 110 x 10 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1995


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Lena Yarinkura

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history