David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU, Brown snakes Enlarge 1 /1


Manharrngu people

Australia 1927 – 1999

Brown snakes c.1963 Description: four striped parallel snakes vertically aligned up bark
Place made: Ramingining, central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, bark paintings, natural pigments on eucalyptus bark

Primary Insc: KK96
Dimensions: 62.5 h x 39.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: Founding Donors Fund 1984 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Accession No: NGA 85.1323
Image rights: © David Malangi Daymirringu. Licensed by Viscopy

One day, Gurrmirringu was carrying home the fruits of a good day’s hunting when he rested by a waterhole in the shade of a wurrumbuku [white berry tree] to cook some of his catch. Some stories record that an evil spirit lurked in the trees roots causing a king brown snake to rise from the roots and bite Gurrmirringu, killing him.

The evil tree spirit was an occasional subject of Malangi’s. The evil connotation was expressed in painting by a beaked and clawed diagonal figure and jagged forms merging with the gnarled tree forms.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra