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Kuninjku (Eastern Kunwinjku) people

Mumeka, near Mann River, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia born 1952

Lorrkon 2006 Place made: Maningrida, Western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, woodwork, natural earth pigments and PVA fixative on hollow log

Dimensions: 221.0 h 27.0 diameter cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2007
Accession No: NGA 2007.14
Image rights: © John Mawurndjul, courtesy Maningrida Arts & Culture

Lorrkon or hollow log coffins are central to the funeral ceremony practiced by the Kuninjku people of Western Arnhem Land. The hollow logs, which housed the ochred bones of the deceased person, were painted with clan designs and placed into the ground where they were left to decay naturally. Mawurndjul’s work makes reference to a major secret and sacred ceremony called a Mardayin. The meaning of his work is restricted and not for public knowledge.

The thin and delicate rarrk (crosshatching) done by Mawurndjul is amazingly and uniformly maintained across the whole length of a hollow log. His hollow logs reverberate with the power of ancestral beings who inhabit Western Arnhem Land and demonstrate Mawurndjul’s masterful and dynamic arrangement of rarrk.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra