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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Sacred dance ground of the Mungalili (Manggalilji) group

circa 1960


Nanyin Maymuru


circa 1914 - 1969

Language group

Manggalili, Arnhem region


Artist/origin: Mungalili (Manggalilji) group, Brailung (Burilung?) clan, jiridja moiety, mainland near Groote Eylandt, Yirrkala, Arnhem Land

Six men came across the sea in two canoes, catching a great number of fish. On arriving at land they cooked and ate the fish and then declared the area should be a sacred dance ground of the group. Two huts on either side were made to house men to guard the sacred place. Four scrub turkeys and four cormorants, types of birds which often visit the site, are shown. In the lower section is a ceremony taking place.

The painting also tells the story of Bamapana, the legendary trickster hero who commited asocial acts. In this case, he has killed a girl, his gurrong, and hung her up in a tree (shown lower right).



circa 1960

Media category

Bark painting

Materials used

natural pigments on bark


130.3 x 53.3 cm


Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1960


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Nanyin Maymuru

Works in the collection



Where the work was made
North-east Arnhem Land

Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

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, 36 (colour illus.).

Emily Joyce Evans and Falk Wolf, Remembering forward: Australian Aboriginal painting since 1960, 'Bark paintings', pg. 102-123, Cologne, 2010, 110 (colour illus.). 50