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Painting of the Crucifixion
Title : Painting of the Crucifixion Painting of the Crucifixion View More Images

(A description from Mountford's journal)

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Creator : Marika, Mawalan
Source : PRG 1218/34/3385WT
Date of creation : 1948
Additional Creator : Mountford, Charles P., photographer
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 60 x 60 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Copyright :

The Library received cultural clearance from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre, Yirrkala to display this image. Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia.
This image may be printed or saved for personal research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia and Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre, Yirrkala. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.

Description :

Photograph of a painting created for C. P. Mountford in Yirrkala during the 1948 American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land. The painting depicts the Crucifixion.

In this painting of the Crucifixion (read anti-clockwise), a soldier is shown spearing Christ. Already dead, he is put on the Cross, and then entombed, finally being carried to Heaven on the shoulders of an angel. (It is interesting to note that the 'Roman soldiers' depicted take on the look of the typical European in Arnhem Land, with safari suits and pith helmets.)

For some Aboriginal people, the introduction of the Bible and Christian stories was not seen as a contradiction to their own beliefs. Rather, stories told by the missionaries could be incorporated into, rather than replace, their own religion.

This painting is attributed to Mawalan Marika I. A leader of ceremonies for the Rirratjingu language group, Marika (1908-1967) was a prominent artist and the keeper of some of the most important knowledge and lore.

Mawalan's son, Wandjuk who was instrumental in translating the Bible into the Gumatj language, described his father's relationship to the Mission.
"the missionaries come, wanting to hear history of the law, our culture and Mawalan said, told what he knew and said 'I'm not going to be Christian but I come as a Christian to the missionary to learn about the Bible, because your story fit into our story, but my story is Law and is Christian before you arrive.'" (in 'Wandjuk Marika: Life story')
Journal entry is from PRG 1218/17/20, p. 277
Coverage year : 1948
Region : Northern Territory
Further reading :

American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, (1948). Records of the American-Australian scientific expedition to Arnhem Land, Melbourne : Melbourne University Press, 1956-1964

Berndt, Ronald M. and Phillips, E. S. (eds). The Australian Aboriginal heritage : an introduction through the arts, 2nd ed, Sydney : Australian Society for Education through the Arts in association with Ure Smith, 1978

Elkin, A. P., Berndt, Catherine and Ronald. Art in Arnhem Land, Melbourne : Cheshire, 1950

Hutcherson, Gillian. Djalkiri w nga = The land is my foundation : 50 years of Aboriginal art from Yirrkala, Northeast Arnhem Land, Nedlands, W.A. : The University of W.A. Berndt Museum of Anthropology, c1995

Lamshed, Max. 'Monty' : the biography of C.P. Mountford, Adelaide : Rigby, 1972

Marika, Wandjuk. Wandjuk Marika : life story, as told to Jennifer Isaacs. St. Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 1995

McKenzie, Maisie. Mission to Arnhem Land, Adelaide : Rigby, 1976

Morphy, Howard. Ancestral connections : art and an aboriginal system of knowledge, Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1991

Swain, Tony and Rose, Deborah Bird (eds). Aboriginal Australians and Christian missions: ethnographic and historical studies. Bedford Park, SA: Australian Association for the Study of Religions, 1988.

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