Wandjina figures are some of the most visually striking
of all images in Kimberley art.
The Worrorra, Wunambal, and Ngarinyin people of the north-western
and central Kimberley say that the Wandjina are the creator
beings of the Dreaming, and that they made their world
and all that it contains. They are found in many rock
art sites in caves and rock shelters throughout the Kimberley.
Wandjina are usually painted as full-length, or head
and shoulder, figures, either standing or lying horizontally.
Their large mouthless faces feature enormous black eyes
flanking a beak-like nose. The head is usually surrounded
by a band with outward radiating lines. Elaborate head-dresses
are both the hair of the Wandjinas and clouds. Long lines
coming out from the hair are the feathers which Wandjinas
wore and the lightning which they control. Wandjina ceremonies
to ensure the timely beginning of the monsoon wet season
and sufficient rainfall are held during December and January,
following which the rains usually begin (Source: Western
Aboriginal people believe that if the Wandjina are offended
then they will take their revenge by calling up lightning
to strike the offender dead, or the rain to flood the
land and drown the people, or the cyclone with its winds
to devastate the country. These are the powers which the
Wandjinas can use.
The picture on the righ is by David Mowaljarlai. It is in natural ochres and pigments and was painted in 1997 as one of a series of images to record the main dreaming stories for his country in the west Kimberley.
Some of the best known artists who have painted Wandjina
images are the Karedada family from Kalumburu, a remote
community in the far north of the Kimberley. Lily
Karedada is one of the most accomplished of contemporary
Wandjina artists and she works with natural ochres and
natural glue or acrylic binder on both bark and canvas.
Lily is married to Jack Karedada, another well known Wandjina
artist. Roslyn Karedada
(Ngalirrman), the wife of Jack's brother Louis, has a
distinctive style, using strong contrasting tones of red,
white and black. Kevin
Waina is another accomplished Wandjina artist from