Woŋgu Munuŋgurr | Mäma Munuŋgurr | Mawunbuy Munuŋgurr | Natjiyalma Munuŋgurr | Djapu’ Clan Design

Woŋgu Munuŋgurr

Mäma Munuŋgurr

Mawunbuy Munuŋgurr

Natjiyalma Munuŋgurr

Djapu’ Clan Design, 1942

Djapu’ Miny’tji

Clan

Gupa-Djapu’

Songline

Bol’ŋu | The Thunderman

"This story belongs only to the Djapu’ people. It is the story painted by my father, Woŋgu, and it tells the story of Wäṉḏawuy, the ancestral lands of the Djapu’ people. My father was the keeper of the section of the Wäṉḏawuy river called Gapu-Marawiyin. He held authority over that water, so that he could pass it onto us, to me and all of my brothers who have died. Each stroke on the bark will tell you of that place. You will see it in our paintings. This place belongs only to us and nobody else. It is this Country from which we come, and this is the story that is hidden here."

– WÄKA MUNUŊGURR

More Info

This work was painted in September 1942 by Woŋgu Munuŋgurr and his three eldest sons at the base camp of the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit (NTSRU) of the Australian Army at Garthalala. The NTSRU was founded by Woŋgu and Donald Thomson as part of efforts to repel a possible Japanese invasion from the north. The painting depicts, Bol’ŋu, the Thunderman, shown three times causing the rain to fall when he hits the clouds with his baḻatj (club). Fifty years later, Woŋgu's granddaughters Marrnyula and Rerrkirrwaŋga Munuŋgurr would collaborate on a similarly monumental depiction of Bol'ŋu with their mother Noŋgirrŋa Marawali for the 1996 John W. Kluge Yirrkala commission.


– Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection

Additional Information

Decade

1942

Medium

Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark

Dimensions (IN)

74 9/16 x 41 7/16

Dimensions (CM)

189.4 x 105.2

Credit

Donald Thomson Collection, University of Melbourne. DT66

Narrative

Gupa-Djapu’

The Gupa-Djapu’ clan is a Dhuwa clan. The most important spiritual themes of the Gupa-Djapu’...

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Songline

Bol’ŋu | The Thunderman

Bol’ŋu (Thunder Man) embodies the rising clouds of the monsoon season. Bol’ŋu is often depicted...

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Location

Waṉḏawuy

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Location

1940s

The onset of World War II spurs the formation of the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance...

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About The Artist(s)

Clan

Gupa-Djapu’

Artist Dates

c.1884-1958

Alternative Names

Ongoo, Wonga, Wongo, Wongu

Woŋgu Munuŋgurr

Woŋgu Munuŋgurr was the Djapu’ leader and statesman who navigated the most challenging moment of cross-cultural relations for Yolŋu in the twentieth century. Following the Caledon Bay crisis, he negotiated a peace treaty with Donald Thomson and, in 1935, initiated the practice of painting on bark for cross-cultural exchange in northeast Arnhem Land. With Thomson, he convened the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit to protect Arnhem Land from Japanese invasion during World War II. He had more than twenty wives and at least sixty children.

Collections Represented

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Berndt Museum of Anthropology, University of Virginia

University of Melbourne

 

Clan

Gupa-Djapu’

Artist Dates

c.1910-1950

Alternative Names

Maama, Malma, Mama

Mäma Munuŋgurr

The son of Woŋgu Munuŋgurr, Mäma Munuŋgurr was a member of the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit (NTSRU). In 1942, he painted alongside his father and brothers at the NTSRU base camp at Garthalala.

Clan

Gupa-Djapu’

Artist Dates

c.1900-1952

Alternative Names

Mauwunboi, Mawunboi, Mawunpuy

Mawunbuy Munuŋgurr

Mawunbuy Munuŋgurr was a member of the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit and painted alongside his father and brothers at the base camp at Garthalala. In 1946, he produced crayon drawings for the anthropologists Ronald and Catherine Berndt.

Clan

Gupa-Djapu’

Artist Dates

c.1884-1955

Alternative Names

Natjelma

Natjiyalma Munuŋgurr

Natjiyalma Munuŋgurr was one of the three sons of Woŋgu Munuŋgurr convicted of the killing of the crew of a Japanese fishing boat at Caledon Bay in 1932. He later joined the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit, where he helped manufacture shovel-nosed metal spears.