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The story of Djirt


Narritjin Maymuru


circa 1916 – 1981

Language group: Manggalili, Arnhem region

Artist profile

  • Details

    Other Title
    The story of Djirrt
    Place where the work was made
    Yirrkala North-east Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Media category
    Bark painting
    Materials used
    natural pigments on bark
    92.0 x 40.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Harry Messel 1989
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Narritjin Maymuru Estate

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Narritjin Maymuru

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    A small boy called Djirt found a dead fish on the beach and began to cook it. His father asked him to share the fish but Djirt refused. Then Djirt's father went fishing in a dug-out which is shown twice near the top of the painting, with paddles, woomera and fishing spear. The father caught many fish and began to cook them in a special cooking place shown at the centre of the painting. Djirt asked his father to share the fish, but the father said: "No, this will pay you back".

    Djirt was so unhappy with this that he began to weep and wail and slowly changed into a bird and flew to the top of a tree. His father was so upset that he to changed into a bird and flew into the tree to join his son. The two birds are shown at the top of the painting sitting in the tree and the metamorphoses is depicted in the body of the painting.

    At the bottom left we see Djirt's mother and aunt digging for yams. The mother has a dilly bag around her neck. Djirt's two uncles are shown at bottom left weaving a dilly bag with bush string.

    Harry Messel

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • 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.).

Other works by Narritjin Maymuru