An image of Wagilak sisters story

Dawidi Birritjama

(Australia 1921 – 1970)

Milingimbi, Arnhem region
Language group
Liyagalawumirr, Arnhem region

Wagilak sisters story

Other titles:
Wauwalag Sisters story
Not on display
Further information

Central within this work is the form of Wititj (an olive python) encircling the Wägilak sisters and their children. Angered by the presence of the sisters at his waterhole of Mirarrmina, Wititj rose into the sky, his flicking tongue creating lightning and his spit forming towering clouds that generate the first monsoon, flooding the earth with its deluge.

As the sisters had not respected marriage laws, they and their children were swallowed by Wititj as punishment. To boast of what he had done, Wititj again rose to the skies but was ostracised by other serpents who alerted him to the fact that the sisters were his relatives and of the same moiety. He had therefore also broken the law, and on becoming ill regurgitated the sisters and fell to the ground.

The resting place of Wititj is marked by Dawidi as the dominant triangular motif to the left of the work. Also evident is the semi-circular form of the waterhole and the plant and animal life of this inland freshwater area.

Place of origin
Milingimbi, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
circa 1959
Bark painting
natural pigments on bark
75.0 x 37.0 cm (irreg.)
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1960
Accession number
© Dawidi Estate. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd