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


Lany'tjung & Barama proclaim the Sacred Law


Birrikidji Gumana


circa 1898 – 12 Apr 1982

Language group: Dhalwangu, Arnhem region

No image
  • Details

    Other Title
    Laintjun and Barama
    Place where the work was made
    Yirrkala North-east Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Media category
    Bark painting
    Materials used
    natural pigments on bark
    84.0 x 35.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Harry Messel 1989
    Not on display
    Accession number
    Artist information
    Birrikidji Gumana

    Works in the collection


  • About

    An ancestral spirit, Laintjun and his son, Barama, emerged from a sacred waterhole and proclaimed many ceremonial secrets to the first Aboriginal people of the world, including the diamond pattern body design, which represents the water of the sacred well. Here we see Laintjun and Barama explaining how to carve certain high-secret wooden symbols depicting the fresh water snake and fresh water turtle. Instead of the actual symbol the artist has here depicted the creatures they represent. The sacred diamond pattern is shown and at the top of the painting we see two water birds chasing a fresh water crayfish in the sacred billabong.

    Harry Messel

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Gamarada, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Nov 1996–16 Feb 1997

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Steven Miller, Tony Tuckson, James Scougall, Mollie Gowing, Harry Messel, Craig Brush, Ronald Fine, Alison Fine, Gordon Davies, Rosalind Davies, Christopher Hodges, Helen Eager, Rosemary Gow, Sandra Phillips, Daphne Wallace and Ken Watson, Gamarada, Sydney, 1996, 55 (colour illus.).