Narritjin Maymuru

(Australia circa 1916 – 1981)

Yirrkala, Arnhem region, Djarrakpi, Arnhem region
Language group
Manggalili, Arnhem region

The story of Djirt

Other titles:
The story of Djirrt
Not on display
Further information

A small boy called Djirt found a dead fish on the beach and began to cook it on the fire. His father came along and asked for a piece of the fish, but Djirt was selfish and refused to give him any. The father therefore vowed that the next time he went fishing he would not give his son any of the catch.

When the father returned from a day's fishing with a large catch, Djirt asked for some but the father refused. Djirt cried so hard that he grew feathers and became a bird and flew to the top of a tree. His father looked up and from where he was cooking the fish saw what had happened, and decided also to become a bird to keep his son company.

At either side of the upper panel is shown the cooking place, with a fish on the fire. Djirt and his father are shown a number of times as they change into birds. The tree which they flew to is shown at centre and to the left of the tree is a group of relatives chanting the story of what had happened. Three men are beating clapsticks and one is blowing a didgeridoo into a bark dish so as to produce a richer sound.

Below this the two birds are shown, and in the bottom panel. Djirt's mother is carrying a container of yams on her head. She is flanked by two digging sticks.
Harry Messel

Place of origin
Yirrkala, North-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Bark painting
natural pigments on bark
104.0 x 25.0 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not signed.

Gift of Harry Messel 1987
Accession number
© Narritjin Maymuru Estate