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THE FEMALE RAINBOW SERPENT
Oenpelli, Western Arnhem Land
Ngalkunburriyami is the daughter of Jingana. The all-powerful Rainbow Serpent of the Dreamtime, who gave birth to a son and a daughter. Ngalyod, the son, is also a Rainbow Serpent, much feared throughout Western Arnhem Land, and Ngalkunburriyami is less feared, although still very powerful.
In rain making ceremonies they are both honoured with their mother, so that they remain happy and do not upset the balance of the seasons by becoming angry during the dry season.
Both the brother and sister had heads like crocodiles, although these heads could change to those of kangaroos, goannas, or other animals. Feathered head-dresses are a feature of both Rainbow Serpents, and they are also sometimes depicted with a prickly beard beneath their chins.
Their bodies are like those of a python, with crocodile scales, but whereas Ngalyod has a forked tail, Ngalkunburriyami's tail is that of a fish.
The overall pattern in this painting is the sacred design of the artist (label on reverse of 1989.0035.0001).
A bark painting worked with ochres on bark and with one wooden restrainer. It depicts the female rainbow serpent in white, with black sections on the lower section, fins and tail. There are three plants depicted above the serpent's back. The painting has a red background.
W 1110mm x H 510mm x D 25mm
Verified by D Kaus 22/05/2013