Arnhem Land, Northern Australia
Bark and pigment
H: 94.0 cm, W: 46.0 cm, D: 7.5 cm (H: 37.0 in, W: 18.1 in, D: 2.9 in)
Museum purchase. X67.7
The Wawilak Sisters, depicted here in the belly of Wititj, the olive python, are the most important creator/ancestors among the Yolngu peoples. In the Yolngu origin stories, the sisters traveled through the landscape conferring names on plants, animals, and geographic features, bringing them into existence. At a water hole they awakened Wititj, who created the first monsoon before swallowing the sisters. The sisters also established the rules of kinship and behavior that still govern their Yolngu descendants today. In the 1960s the painter Dawidi, as the ritual leader of the Liyagalawumirr clan, was responsible for maintaining the body of knowledge represented by the painting and transmitting it to the following generation.
Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006