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A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory


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Collection No. T-3000
Size Height 55cm Without the Stand
A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory
A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory
A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory
A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory
A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory
A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory
A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory
A Finely Painted Aboriginal Hollow Log Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory

This finely painted Hollow Log Coffin was made for the Art Market and never intended to be used.  Dating from the late 1960’s to early 1970’s.    The main design elements are several types of Lizards relating to the Mardayin ceremony and painted among the background of finely painting crosshatch called Rarrk which is widely used in Arnhem land painting. The condition of the painting on this artwork is so fine &  in nearly perfect condition.

According to the National Gallery of Australia ”

Various language groups in Arnhem Land call this style of painting rarrk. These rarrk designs are the body paintings worn by the (male) initiates in the Mardayin ceremony. The act of painting the initiate with the designs is like mapping their body to their ancestral lands. The designs comprise a geometric framework that is painted on the thighs and chest of the initiates and then filled in with bands of lines that alternate in colour. These lines are very finely painted with a special brush that only has a few very long hairs. On close inspection, the designs appear net-like in form and create an optical play between the different surfaces of the design. This can lead to moiré effects created by the intersection of different layers of hatched lines, and the designs have a certain translucence as one sees through the surface webs of paint to those beneath.

Artists use dots of contrasting colours to enliven the borders that comprise the outline grid for these designs. The effect created by layering the myriad of parallel lines, and combining them with dotted dividing lines, gives the painting dynamism and brilliance. This is an important aesthetic effect that Kuninjku seeks in their ceremonial designs, and the application of them in the context of the ceremony is said to transfer ancestral power to the initiate and to release power into the world.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Aboriginal Art