Various animals and plants have totemic significance to the Kunwinjku people who live in western Arnhem Land in the ‘Top End’ of Australia. The artist has painted kunj or kangaroo, which is the largest marsupial mammal in the area. The kunj is painted in the classic Kunwinjku “x-ray” style with internal organs showing, indicating it’s regarded as game than that of totemic significance. The cross-hatching technique used for the in-fill is called rarrk and is taken from ceremonial body painting designs. Kunj are herbivorous.
When we talk about Kunj (kangaroos) we mean several different kinds of kangaroo: There is the Antilopine wallaroo – we call the male Korlobbarr or Kandakkidj, and the female Kardayh or Karurrken. The common wallaroo we call kalkberd (male) and wolerrk (female); The agile wallaby – kornobolo – we call the male warradjunkal and female merlbbe; And the black wallaroo we call Barrk or Nadjinem for the male, and Djukerre for the female. The kangaroo is an important source of food for us Aboriginal people. We go out into the bush and we hunt kangaroos in the savanna woodland. And we climb into the stone country to hunt the kangaroos that live there. Also we hunt wallabies in the monsoon forests, such as the agile wallaby.
Bu Kunj ngarriyime nakka wanjh nadjalwern nawu kunj Korlobbarr [ Kandakkidj ] nuye ngalbininjkobeng Karndayh [Karuuken ] Kalkberd nuye ngalbininjkobeng Worlerrk Kornobolo Warradjangkal nuye ngalbininjkobeng Merlbbe dja Barrk [ Nadjinem ] nuye ngalbininjkobeng Djukerre.Nahni mayh kunj nakuken bu ngarringun nawu ngarrikukburlerri,Ngarrire manberrk ngarribun nawu kunj manberrkwaken,Kuwarde ngarriwardebidbun ngarribun nawu kunj kuwardewaken,.Kungarre ngarrire ngarribun kunj nawu kungarre kani yiman Kornobolo.