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


Sacred dance ground of the Mungalili (Manggalilji) group

circa 1960


Nanyin Maymuru


circa 1914 – 1969

Language group: Manggalili, Arnhem region

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    North-east Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    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
    © Estate of Nanyin Maymuru
    Artist information
    Nanyin Maymuru

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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).

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    North-east Arnhem Land

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 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, 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.). cat.no. 50