Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

the story of Djirit
  • Nanyin Maymurra
    circa 1918–1969
    active: Australia
  • the story of Djirit, 1918–1965
  • Where object was made: Yirrkala, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
  • eucalyptus tree bark, pigment
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 172.5 x 54 x 9.5 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 67 7/8 x 21 1/4 x 3 3/4 in
  • Gift of Edward L. Ruhe
  • Not on display
  • 1971.0166
Label Text

Very large, rectangular piece of bark that is fully decorated on one side with pigments in yellow-orange, red, white, and black. At the top center is a black stylized tree with two large birds sitting on top, one black and one red and orange. At the top right are two black birds with their wings extended in flight, and below them is a black human figure which also has wings and appears to be in flight. Below that is a group of seven black human figures. One holds a large yellow-orange bag. To the left of those figures, below the tree is a group of six yellow-orange fish. To the left of the fish is a pointed shape that is either a shield or boat with two black fish inside. To the left of that are two black human figures holding yellow-orange walking sticks and with large bags down their backs. In the next section down, oriented perpendicularly to the upper figures, there is a yellow-orange human figure in a boat, and that person is holding what appears to be a large fishing net, which extends down and wraps around a large yellow-orange fish. That fish, as well as three other fish are in a line across the bark, below them is a large yellow-orange circle, and below that are seven more yellow-orange fish. Below that is a section of vertical design elements that are pointed at each end and narrow in the middle. they are in alternating colors of black and red with thick yellow-orange outlines. The bottom section has three vertically positioned yellow-orange snakes that are very wide in the center and the heads extend up into the section above and they have squiggly lines coming out from their mouths. Between the snakes are shapes similar to those above in red and black, but positioned horizontally. All of the spaces between the figures is filled with very fine crosshatching, mostly white on red, but with some variation from one section to another.

The back is unpainted but appears to have been slightly charred and has three pieces of paper adhered to it. See Inscriptions.