Barayuwa Munungurr


Born: c.28/09/1980
Moiety: Dhuwa
Homeland: Wandawuy
Clan: Djapu
Region: East Arnhem Land



Barayuwa has done his mother’s Munyuku clan’s design, inspired by the late ritual specialist and artist Dula Ngurruwutthun. It is associated with the ancestral events relating to the death of the ancestral whale called Mirinyu\u on the beaches of the Munyuku saltwater estate of Yarrinya within Blue Mud Bay. Hidden within the design are the bones of the whale on the beach made sacred with the essence of Mirinyungu. The directions of the bands of miny’tji (sacred clan design) relate to the sacred saltwater of Yarrinya, the chop on the surface of the water and the ancestral powers emanating from it. Mununggurr’s work appears to capture the point when the strips of whale flesh become the living rhythms of the reef.

The whale’s tail is seen as Ra\ga, sacred ceremonial object, and employed in ceremony. The bones of the whale are also said to have become a part of the rocks in the ocean. Bones are thought of as the essence of a person. From this description it is evident that the rock and the whale are combined in a spiritual manner, which is extremely significant to Munyuku people. There may be some echo of a reference to a related Munyuku icon, the anchor - a symbol of rock-like foundation for the family.


Berndt Museum of Anthropology, Univerity of Western Australia, Perth, WA
Museum and Art Gallery of the NT
National Gallery of Australia


2013 Highly Commended 30th annual NATSIAA, MAGNT Darwin