An image of Wagilak sisters story - Wititj (olive python)

Dawidi Birritjama

(Australia 1921 – 1970)

Milingimbi, Arnhem region
Language group
Liyagalawumirr, Arnhem region

Wagilak sisters story - Wititj (olive python)

Other titles:
The Python Yulunggur (Wagilag Sisters Story)
Not on display
Further information

The painting shows the python Julunggul [sic], who appears in the sacred Wagilag Sister's Story. A simple version of the story goes like this. The Wagilag are two sisters who traveled from south Arnhem Land (the Roper River area), eventually reaching a sacred waterhole or well in which, unknown to them the python Julunggul lived. The foods which they caught and collected, when placed on a fire, jumped up and disappeared into the waterhole. When one of the sisters gave birth to a baby, Julunggul smelt the afterbirth blood. Disturbed by this and by all the creatures jumping into his waterhole, the monstrous python emerged and swallowed the two sisters and the child. According to one version of the story, this symbolized the onset of the monsoon season. Later he vomited them up.

Virtually the complete surface of the bark sheet is taken up with Julunggul, resting coiled with eggs at the bottom of the sacred waterhole.

[Information supplied by the Methodist Overseas Mission, Milingimbi with original documentation probably by Dorothy Bennett]

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

Place of origin
Milingimbi, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Bark painting
natural pigments on bark
71.8 x 38.1 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1959
Accession number
© Dawidi Estate. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd