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Wagilak sisters story - Wititj (olive python)



Dawidi Birritjama


1921 – 1970

Language group: Liyagalawumirr, Arnhem region

Artist profile

  • Details

    Other Title
    The Python Yulunggur (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
    71.8 x 38.1 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1959
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Dawidi Estate. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Dawidi Birritjama

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The painting shows the python Julunggul [sic], who appears in the sacred Wagilag Sister's Story. A simple version of the story goes like this. The Wagilag are two sisters who traveled from south Arnhem Land (the Roper River area), eventually reaching a sacred waterhole or well in which, unknown to them the python Julunggul lived. The foods which they caught and collected, when placed on a fire, jumped up and disappeared into the waterhole. When one of the sisters gave birth to a baby, Julunggul smelt the afterbirth blood. Disturbed by this and by all the creatures jumping into his waterhole, the monstrous python emerged and swallowed the two sisters and the child. According to one version of the story, this symbolized the onset of the monsoon season. Later he vomited them up.

    Virtually the complete surface of the bark sheet is taken up with Julunggul, resting coiled with eggs at the bottom of the sacred waterhole.

    [Information supplied by the Methodist Overseas Mission, Milingimbi with original documentation probably by Dorothy Bennett]

    © Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2005

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

Other works by Dawidi Birritjama

See all 7 works