Gununggurr (Lightning Snakes)
The Yolngu (people) of Arnhem Land originate from a spiritual source, fixed in a particular place in their land or the sea. These ‘Spiritual Reservoirs’ are often in the form of special waterholes made by Wangarr (Creative Beings), long ago close to the beginning of time. These creator beings moved across the country side, shaping the land and implanting in each tract of country, the spiritual life force for the people who were to own it. These Creative Spirits took many forms. When they gave the land to each group they also gave songs, dances, ceremony, the associated laws and language. The Creation story for Ganalbingu people took place near the middle section of the Glyde River where it becomes the Goyder River. Their land, Ngaliyindi, sits astride the Arafura Swamp in Central Arnhem Land.
This painting is of Gunungurr, the black-nose python. Gunungurr is a creator being for the Ganalbingu people and is is a bringer of lightning at the commencement of the wet season. Animals and plants are commonly portrayed in Arnhem Land art – often in association with ancestral places and seasonal events. This is because animals and plants were created through the activities of ancestral beings, and can represent them. In art, the animals and plants are usually depicted in a realistic style. “