Important Australian Art / John Mawurndjul (born 1952) Njaljod (Rainbow Serpent) at Godanyal, 1988
AU$40,000 - AU$60,000
John Mawurndjul (born 1952)
natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
145.0 x 50.0cm (57 1/16 x 19 11/16in).
Maningrida Arts and Culture, Arnhem Land, (label attached verso, cat. MAW 127)
Private collection, Sydney
Magiciens de la Terre, 18 May - 14 August 1989, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Christian Kaufmann (ed), rarrk - John Mawurndjul : journey through time in Northern Australia, Belair, South Australia: Crawford House Publishing, 2005, p. 76 (illus.)
Ngalyod (Female Rainbow Serpent), 1988 in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
The Rainbow Serpent Njaljod (or Ngalyod) has immense powers of destruction for those who do not follow ancestral law. Ngalyod moves through wetlands, tunnelling through billabongs, waterholes, rivers and creeks, and is especially powerful during the heavy rains and floods of the wet season.
This superb depiction of the powerful ancestral serpent demonstrates Mawurndjul's exceptional mastery of rarrk – the fine cross hatching that adorns Ngalyod's writhing form. Designed to give its serpentine skin a shimmering, other-worldly quality as well as a sense of movement, the design is laid out in repeated rhythmic bands. According to the label attached verso, rocks (Gunwarti) are shown inside the serpent and 'After he created the waterhole he got stuck there, his tail taking the form of a waterlily...'. The headdress is also adorned with waterlilies, alluding to its responsibilities as propagator and guardian of these plants as well as other important fauna of the waterways.