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Wak Wak

This painting depicts a sacred site at ‘Kurrurldul’, an outstation south of Maningrida.

The ‘rarrk’, or abstract crosshatching, on this work represents the design for the crow totem ancestor called ‘Djimarr’. Today this being exists in the form of a rock, which is permanently submerged at the bottom of Kurrurldul Creek. The ‘Djimarr’ rock in the stream at Kurrurldul is said to move around and call out in a soft hooting tone at night. Both the stone itself and the area around it are considered sacred.

The imagery represents the rock mentioned above at the bottom of Kurrurldul creek, which is the final transmutation of the dreaming ancestor ‘Djimarr’. Finally, the pattern used here is also the crow design used in the sacred ‘Mardayin’ ceremony, which is a large regional patri-moiety ceremony now rarely conducted in central and eastern Arnhem Land.

Name: Eleazer Nangukwirrk

Language: Kuninjku

Community: Maningrida


Eleazer is a painter and sculptor. He specialises in bark painting, dolobbo bim,  and lorrkkon (hollow log burial poles). He learned the technique of rarrk from his father Charlie Nanguwerr, an accomplished artist and respected cultural leader within the community. He is known for his warm colour palette and white backgrounds that create a lightness to his designs. He primarily depicts wak, the design for the Black Crow ancestor which today rests as a rock in Kurdurldul creek. 

Like other Kuninjku artists, he maintains the cultural knowledge and practices of working with natural materials: ochres which are mixed with water and PVA fixative and applied with manyilk (sedge grass) to bark (stingybark) in the Wet season and lorrkkon (hollow log burial poles) and spirit carvings in the Dry season. 

© the artist / art centre