David Malangi Daymirringu
'Gurrmirringu's wife' c. 1968
© David Malangi Daymirringu. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
Gurrmirringu is the first ancestor of the Dhuwa moiety Manharrngu clan of Central Arnhem Land. After a successful day hunting, Gurrmirringu was returning home to his wife. On the way he made camp under a Wurrumbuku or white berry tree, where he was poisoned by an evil spirit in the form of a Darrpa, or king brown snake. His death gave rise to the first mortuary rites of the Manharrngu people, in which the story of Gurrmirringu's life and death is re-enacted in dance and song.
The figure of Gurrmirringu's wife, made for the public domain and not for a ceremonial purpose, is decorated with images of the Wurrumbuku across the chest, arms and thighs, and with Manharrngu ceremonial designs on its abdomen. A decorated dilly bag, carved in low relief, hangs from the figure's neck at the back. The dilly bag has a snake painted on its surface. The figure's right arm is bent around the back as though to take the weight of the dilly bag. The protruding face is characteristic of David Malangi Daymirringu's sculptures.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008