Collection Online
earth pigments and natural binder on bark, cane, fibre
147.5 × 55.0 cm
Place/s of Execution
Mowanjum, Western Australia
Accession Number
Indigenous Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1996
© The Estate of Manila Karada
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
Physical description
A three-quarter length Wanjina is depicted on a narrow sheet of bark, curved at the top and bound on three sides by hooped cane. Wanjina is a generic term which refers to the spirit ancestors of the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Woonambal peoples of the North-West Kimberley and their representation in anthropomorphic form. As a figuration of supernatural power, this Wanjina shares certain features with Wandina paintings on rock. It is a frontal, solid image of a mouthless anthropomorph, painted in red ochre, black and sepia pigments on a white ground, comprised largely of white ochre mixed in the mouth and sprayed over the surface. The large head is encircled by a band of red ochre which bears radiating lines, symbolic of lightning. The head is dominated by black eyes, depicted almost touching a beak-like nose, suggestive of the features of an owl emerging out of mist and storm. The curved shape of cumulus storm clouds is echoed by the rounded head and shoulders of the Wanjina. The ancestral beings amorphous body is broken by a central oval shape, said to represent a breast bone and a waist band which indicates a human hair belt. The markings on the body represent body paint.