Lany'tjung bears 'Painter: Birigidji, Banaija, a culture hero, under his changed name: Laitjun [Mountford], Yirrkala, Arnhem Ld, according to Rev G J Symonds Barama' on the reverse natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark 58 x 36cm
PROVENANCE: Painted at Yirrkala, North East Arnhem Land circa 1950 Private collection of the late Leonhard Adam
EXHIBITED: Museum of Ethnography at the University of Bonn, Germany, from the late 1950s - 1993 Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, United Kingdom, 1994 2011
Cf. For a similar painting depicting the figure of Lany'tjung collected on the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land in 1948 and now in the collection of the South Australian Museum see Charles P. Mountford, 'Records of the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land', vol 1: Art, Myth and Symbolism, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1956, p.280 pl.88 B.
By the 1950s Birrikidji Gumana, known as warrior, songman, dancer, and artist, was to become one of the most renowned and eminent Yirritja Law men. He grew up with his fellow Dhalwangu (Yolngu) people in the area surrounding Blue Mud Bay. One of his earliest encounters with Europeans was when anthropologist Donald Thompson lived for an extended period with Gumana's people in the area during the 1930s. After living on Groote Eylandt and on the Rose River in south east Arnhem Land, he eventually moved to Yirrkala in the late 1950s. Soon after arriving he painted, with the assistance of his sons Gawirrin and Yanggarriny Wunungnurra, the lower section of the Yirritja side of the Yirrkala Church Panels.
This rare early painting depicts the Yirritja ancestral being Lany'tjung, who bought to the Dhalwangu their ritual knowledge, paintings and sacred paraphernalia.
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