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Important Australian Art / John Mawurndjul (born 1952) Njaljod (Rainbow Serpent) at Godanyal, 1988

Lot 13
John Mawurndjul
(born 1952)
Njaljod (Rainbow Serpent) at Godanyal, 1988
23 August 2022, 19:00 AEST

AU$40,000 - AU$60,000

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John Mawurndjul (born 1952)

Njaljod (Rainbow Serpent) at Godanyal, 1988
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.

Francesca Cavazzini

Additional information