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Dhuwarrwarr Marika – Milngurr

$3,500.00 inc. GST

Dhuwarrwarr is believed by many (including Professor Howard Morphy and herself) to be the first Yolŋu woman authorised to paint sacred designs on her own. Her second solo exhibition Dhuwarrwarr Marika, Rirratjiŋu Woman was presented at Songlines in 2021. A comprehensive catalogue was created for it:

Dhuwarrwarr Marika, Rirratjingu Woman Catalogue – final

Dhuwarrwarr is represented by Buku Larrnggay Mulka and her full biography and an Artwork Certificate is provided with each of her paintings.

On the rear of the artwork a metal frame has been attached that allows it to be hung as shown.

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  • Medium: earth pigments on board
  • Size: 82 x 122 cm
  • Catalogue #3939-20
  • Created: 2020


The Djaŋ’kawu follow the morning star by canoe from their residence of Buralku, an island of ancestral dead. With them they carry dilly bags, mats and digging sticks that manifest into sacred objects through ritual of song and dance that starts on the sea of travel and into the sand dunes rimming the landing shores of Yalaŋbara.

From Yalaŋbara the Djaŋ’kawu set out on their epic journey of eastern Arnhem Land, travelling on what they sanctified as Dhuwa land, singing the country and splitting it up into clan estates, designating sacred law (madayin) song, dance, totem, language to each as they went. Thus the one side of the duality that governs the Yolŋu of Arnhem Land – the two moiety system of the Dhuwa and the Yirritja, emanated from Yalaŋbara.

(Full information on artwork certificate.)

Dhuwarrwarr Marika

  • Born: c.1945
  • Language group: Yolŋu
  • Moiety: Dhuwa
  • Clan: Rirratjiŋu, Miliwurrwurr group
  • Homelands: Yirrkala, Yalaŋbara, Gulurunga, Bremer Island

Dhuwarrwarr’s father, Mawalan, was the ceremonial leader of the Rirratjiŋu tribe and was steeped
in the mythology of his people. He painted up to the time of his death, and with failing eyesight and poor health, allowed Dhuwarrwarr to help him, after consultation with his sons and brothers and elders of the group. She has not painted since his death until recently, when she again requested permission from her brothers to do so.

Born in 1945 Dhuwarrwarr is sister of Wandjuk, Bayŋgul and Banduk Marika, and daughter of Mawalan, the Rirratjiŋu clan leader who originally welcomed the missionaries to set up on his land, creating the beginnings of modern day Yirrkala.

Dhuwarrwarr is a statesperson for her people, representing them on various committees and institutions such as Land Councils and Women’s groups. In 1993 she travelled to Europe as an invited speaking guest for the opening of the international traveling exhibition of ‘Aratjara – Art of the First Australians’.

She also attends to the day-to-day needs of a wide group of young and old clans-people with a particular emphasis on guiding and guarding the young minds of her family. She lives on Rirratjiŋu land either at her house overlooking the beach and creek at Yirrkala or at Gutjangan on Bremer Island.

Her first genuine solo exhibition held relatively late in her career, ‘Milngurr’ at Vivien Anderson Gallery in Melbourne in 2008 was a literal sell out within 5 minutes of opening. Institutional Collections purchased the bulk of the works. She has continued to exhibit commercially and to be shown in institutional shows to this day. Her second solo exhibition was at Songlines in Darwin in 2021.

Provenance: this artwork was sourced from Buku Larrnggay Mulka, Yirrkala in NE Arnhem Land