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


Banumbirr (morning star)

collected 1948


  • Details

    Other Title
    Aboriginal heaven
    Alternative title
    Dhuwa journey of the dead - Aboriginal heaven
    Place where the work was made
    Milingimbi Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Cultural origin
    Djambarrpuyŋu/Arnhem region
    collected 1948
    Media category
    Materials used
    natural pigments on paper
    58.0 x 45.5 cm image/sheet; 76.0 x 63.5 x 3.0 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of the Commonwealth Government 1956
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Binyinyuwuy Estate. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Binyinyuwuy Djarrankuykuy

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Binyinyuwuy was only a young man at the time of painting this work and it is perhaps the earliest work by him to have been collected and attributed. It was made as part of the American and Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land led by Charles Mountford, which resulted in a collection of several hundred Aboriginal objects and artworks.

    Central within Banumbirr (morning star) is the morning star pole. Each evening the morning star leaves its bathi (basket) to travel across the country on a feathered string, passing over Dhuwa estates such as Djarraya (Napier Peninsula), which is Binyinyuwuy’s home country, and guiding the souls of those recently departed to the island of Burralku. By morning, the star is returned to the bathi until the following evening, when it will repeat the journey. As explained by Djambarrpungu-man Keith Lapulung Dhamarrandji, Burralku is akin to heaven, a ‘promised spiritual country, the next stage of life after death. Life repeats then moves on to the next cycle’.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications

Other works by Binyinyuwuy Djarrankuykuy

See all 16 works