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


Wagilak sisters story - Wititj (olive python)



Dawidi Birritjama


1921 – 1970

Language group: Liyagalawumirr, Arnhem region

Artist profile

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Carpet snake Olive Python
    Wititj, Olive Python
    Carpet Snake (Wagilag Sisters Story)
    Place where the work was made
    Milingimbi Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Media category
    Bark painting
    Materials used
    natural pigments on bark
    81.3 x 40.7 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1961
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Dawidi Estate. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd

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    Artist information
    Dawidi Birritjama

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    In 'Wägilak sisters story – Wititj (olive python)' 1961 Dawidi capitalises on the potential of the body of Wititj to create a graphic image based on line, colour and form. The dramatic use of black renders the snake subterranean, lurking within the waters of Mirarrmina and protectively guarding its young. Its coiled form is vibrantly painted with straight lines of miny’tji (clan designs), creating a mesmerising optical effect and reflecting the power imbued within this being.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 5 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

    • 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, 42 (colour illus.).

    • Cara Pinchbeck, Art from Milingimbi, ‘Dawidi’, pg. 64-71, Sydney, 2016, 71 (colour illus.), 140.

Other works by Dawidi Birritjama

See all 7 works