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Death of Muraruma, the turtle man

circa 1960


Mawalan Marika


circa 1908 – 26 Nov 1967

Language group: Rirratjingu, Arnhem region

Artist profile

  • Details

    Other Title
    Death of Muraruma (Muramura) the turtle man
    Place where the work was made
    Yirrkala North-east Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    circa 1960
    Media category
    Bark painting
    Materials used
    natural pigments on bark
    118.1 x 55.9 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1960
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of Mawalan Marika/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Mawalan Marika

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The founding leader of the Rirratjingu clan, Muraruma, stole a young wife from a neighbouring clan. After she expressed homesickness he killed her. Her unburied body was found by her relatives who followed Muraruma to Melville Bay where he was cooking a catch of fish and stingray on a fire represented in the bottom section. Bugligbe (horizontal figure) is shown to the upper left with five of his friends. Upon meeting Muraruma called out to his three wives to bring more food. At his fourth call Bugligbe's friends came out of hiding and speared Muraruma who, before dying, managed to kill Bugligbe. In the center of the painting Muraruma is shown with a number of spears sticking into him. Surrounding him are Bugligbe's three wives, Muraruma's five wives and his two sisters, who tried unsuccessfully to help him. Muraruma's spirit, shown in the top right panel with a wooden fishing spear, was seen by Muraruma's four brothers to the NW of Yirrkala where it vanished into the sea and reappeared in the form of a rock. The spirit and rock with waves are shown in top left section.

    © Information provided by the artist

    Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

Other works by Mawalan Marika

See all 16 works