Collection Online

Namarnday spirits
(early 1960s)

earth pigments on Stringybark (Eucalyptus sp.)
85.7 × 44.4 cm
Place/s of Execution
Minjilang, Croker Island, Northern Territory
Accession Number
Indigenous Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gerstl Bequest, 2000
Gallery location
Gallery 14
Level 3, NGV Australia
Namarnday spirits are malignant or profane spirits of the human dead, associated with love magic and acts of sorcery used as a punishment for sexual misconduct. The male and female spirits are particularly animated and have prominent genitalia common to sorcery paintings found on cave walls. One painting represents male and female spirits in an erotic rather than malevolent act. The other shows male Namarnday with limbs and genitals abnormally long and twisted, symbolic of evil or retributive intent.