An image of Milka (teredo worms in the mangroves)

Tom Djawa

(Australia 1905 – 23 Mar 1980)

Milingimbi, Arnhem region
Language group
Gupapuyngu, Arnhem region

Milka (teredo worms in the mangroves)

Other titles:
Bark painting (Teredo worms in the mangroves)
Not on display
Further information

The Yolngu scholar, Dr Gumbala explained in 2014 that Djäwa celebrates the ‘food that is gathered in mangroves, very champion and popular food … bush tucker’ in 'Milka (teredo worms in the mangroves)' c1950s. They were painted by Djäwa for his maternal mari, or grandmother, who belonged to the Wubulkarra clan nation. Derived from the pattern made by milka on a sacred log when they burrow into its timber, they are painted as a trail of diamonds, a unique, abstracted design that is mesmerising in its repetition. In the upper section of the work a bold yellow form dominates. This is reminiscent of the tail of the trevally fish and is representative of all mandjikay, all groups of people coming together.

Place of origin
Milingimbi, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
circa 1950s
Bark painting
natural pigments on bark
65.4 x 31.1 cm
Purchased 1962
Accession number
© Djawa Estate. Licensed by Aboriginal Artist Agency Ltd, Sydney