Aboriginal people in the Kakadu area paint rock images rarely now. Among the reasons for this are the fact that Aboriginal people no longer live in rock shelters and there are fewer people with the necessary knowledge to allow them to paint at certain sites. Nevertheless, Aboriginal artists continue to paint on bark, paper and other materials. In recent years printing traditional designs onto fabric has become a popular art form, particularly among women.
In spite of this, rock art remains relevant to Bininj/Mungguy: the works depict objects still used, animals still hunted, and activities people still do. The rock art in Kakadu was painted for a number of reasons:
hunting - animals were often painted to increase their abundance and to ensure a successful hunt by placing people in touch with the spirit of the animal;
religious significance - at some sites paintings depict aspects of particular ceremonies;
stories and learning - stories associated with the Creation Ancestors, who gave shape to the world were painted;
sorcery and magic - paintings could be used to manipulate events and influence people's lives; fun-for play and practice.
Art depicting huntingArt depicting ceremony and celebration
Some sites and paintings could be painted only by people with the requisite knowledge. Sorcery paintings could be painted only by the holder of magic knowledge, for instance. Other paintings, particularly at sites depicting stories of Creation Ancestors, were often repainted: again, only people with knowledge of the stories could repaint them. The act of painting put artists in touch with their Creation Ancestors-a powerful experience.
Last modified: May 2, 2008 2:45 PM