An image of Banumbirr (morning star)

Binyinyuwuy Djarrankuykuy

(Australia 1928 – 1982)

Milingimbi, Arnhem region, Djarraya, Napier Peninsula/Arnhem region
Language group
Djambarrpuyungu, Arnhem region

Banumbirr (morning star)

Other titles:
Aboriginal heaven
Not on display
Further information

Binyinyuwuy was only a young man at the time of painting this work and it is perhaps the earliest work by him to have been collected and attributed. It was made as part of the American and Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land led by Charles Mountford, which resulted in a collection of several hundred Aboriginal objects and artworks.

Central within Banumbirr (morning star) is the morning star pole. Each evening the morning star leaves its bathi (basket) to travel across the country on a feathered string, passing over Dhuwa estates such as Djarraya (Napier Peninsula), which is Binyinyuwuy’s home country, and guiding the souls of those recently departed to the island of Burralku. By morning, the star is returned to the bathi until the following evening, when it will repeat the journey. As explained by Djambarrpungu-man Keith Lapulung Dhamarrandji, Burralku is akin to heaven, a ‘promised spiritual country, the next stage of life after death. Life repeats then moves on to the next cycle’.

Place of origin
Milingimbi, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
collected 1948
natural pigments on paper
58.0 x 45.5 cm image/sheet; 76.0 x 63.5 x 3.0 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of the Commonwealth Government 1956
Accession number
© Binyinyuwuy Estate. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd