An image of Goanna totem

Tom Djawa

(Australia 1905 – 1980)

Milingimbi, Arnhem region
Language group
Gupapuyngu, Arnhem region

Goanna totem

Other titles:
Bark painting (Goanna totem)
Not on display
Further information

Goanna Totem. Male and Female are depicted, the females having eggs connected together. Separating line in the middle is a layer of rock. At a time of great drought the goanna people tried to find water. They dug and dug down through the rocks until finally they were stopped by the rock shown in the painting. They turned to stone and their remains can be seen in the shape of a mountain at Arnhem Bay. The mountain still looks like a goanna.

The painting is used in an increase ceremony and as a teaching aid.

[Information supplied by the Methodist Overseas Mission, Milingimbi]

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

collected 1959
Bark painting
natural pigments on bark
76.8 x 36.2 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1959
Accession number
© Tom Djawa/Bula'bula Arts. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney