Organized by the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection

Narritjin Maymuru | Yellow Ochre Story at Gurruŋawuy

Narritjin Maymuru

Yellow Ochre Story at Gurruŋawuy, 1948

Galuŋarraŋur Gurruŋawuy




Wirrili | The Yellow Ochre Ancestor

"Narritjin has painted the Gaḻaŋarr (yellow rock) that is burning, so we cannot see it in the distance. That is the shore of a place called Bonhuwa where Wirrili went and dug with his digging sticks. Gaḻaŋarr is the rock itself: Gaḻaŋarr, the yellow ochre. The place where we get the Gaḻaŋarr is called Gurruŋa or Gurruŋawuy. That is where we still go to get yellow ochre. And I call these digging sticks gaṉiny. And when Baḻaŋarrtji stuck his digging stick in the ground, it made a hole. And a goanna named Djarrawuywuy or Gamunuŋbi slipped over and went inside. He went inside black and came out yellow from the Gaḻaŋarr. And the hawk, Gurrututu, was flying around and saw the pieces of yellow ochre on the ground. He picked one up and flew away with that yellow ochre to the lands of the Gupapuyŋu clan. We sing Gaḻaŋarr together, Gupapuyŋu and Gumatj clans."


Additional Information




Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark

Dimensions (IN)

38 1/4 x 16 3/4

Dimensions (CM)

97 x 42.5


National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. E387456.



The Gumatj are a large clan, with homeland communities at Gunyuŋarra, Birany’birany, Dhanaya, Bawaka, Maṯamaṯa...

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Wirrili | The Yellow Ochre Ancestor

The saltwater painting starts on the horizon and goes toward Gurruŋawuy, where we get yellow...

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

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About The Artist(s)



Artist Dates


Alternative Names

Naridjin, Naritjin, Narridjin, Ngaradjin

Narritjin Maymuru

Narritjin Maymuru was one of the most significant figures in the development of the painting movement at Yirrkala. The driving force behind the Yirrkala Church Panels, he actively encouraged art making as a means of economic development, which would lead to the foundation of the Yirrkala Art Center in 1976. Along with Mawalan Marika, Narritjin was one of the first men to teach his daughters to paint. In 1978, he was awarded a Creative Arts Fellowship from the Australian National University.

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