An image of Djan'kawu creation story

Mawalan Marika

(Australia circa 1908 – 26 Nov 1967)

Yirrkala, Arnhem region
Language group
Rirratjingu, Arnhem region

Djan'kawu creation story, from the series Djan'kawu story

Other titles:
Djanggawo Creation Story, Djang'kawu Creation Story, Djanggawul Creation Story, Djanggawo Creation Story, Djanggawull Creation Story, Djang'kawu story no. 5
Not on display
Further information

bottom: At Arnhem Bay - the life cycle of the Djan'kawu Sisters. The women's blood is represented on the two circles at left. On the right side the large circle represents the flow of water, the two smaller circles, the placenta. They are shown with strings tying their legs back. The four separate circular shapes in this section represent the sacred conical mats for the female children.

lower left: This section shows the sacred objects (rangga). Eight were planted to make shade for the children. Four other rangga (djuda trees) are shown growing at the extreme left in Ngaymil country.

lower right: A place at Arnhem Bay where the two Sisters and Djan'kawu watch a sunrise and sunset that can be seen in the two panels on the extreme right. Djan'kawu is urinating.

upper: Depicts a site near Milingimbi The two sisters give birth to the people of Milingimbi. The yellow figures are men and boys, the black figures women and girls. The placenta of one of the women is also depicted.

top left: At Galiwin'ku (Elcho Island). After death the spirits of the Djan'kawu sisters receive new names. The circle in the centre is a swamp. The lines on either side depict lily leaves. The red background behind the sisters represents their grave. After this they go to the spirit land.

top right: Depicts Djan'kawu at Yalangbara (Port Bradshaw). The sacred rangga with feathered pendants is shown. Djan'kawu (also identified in the original documentation as Mawalan, the artist) is shown looking at the rangga and singing. The cross-hatching in this section represents earth and grass.

© Information provided by the artist

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

Place of origin
Yirrkala, North-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Bark painting
natural pigments on bark
188.0 x 64.8 cm (irreg.)
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Dr Stuart Scougall 1959
Accession number
© Mawalan Marika. Licensed by Copyright Agency